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  • GUEST COLUMN: Older adults matter and deserve better than the drastic cuts in proposed state budget

GUEST COLUMN: Older adults matter and deserve better than the drastic cuts in proposed state budget

By Rob Raffle and Christa Serafin

(This appeared in the Utica-Rome Daily Sentinel 2/13/24.)

As long-standing, not-for-profit organizations providing skilled nursing care for people in the Mohawk Valley, the Masonic Care Community and Sitrin Health Care Center are joining together to ask for your help.

On January 16, Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed a budget that drastically cuts the long-term care sector by an additional $600 million.

Nursing home state reimbursement rates are significantly inadequate. Because Governor Hochul’s proposed budget will further hurt older New Yorkers and senior care facilities across the state, we are asking you, as members of the community, to ask our legislators to reject the governor’s nursing home cuts.

Why isn’t the care of the oldest members of our community—and the fastest-growing population—a priority?

The last time Medicaid reimbursement was adjusted to actual costs was in 2008. Over the past 16 years, the rate has remained stagnant while costs have risen by over 40%. Last year, a 6.5% increase was provided. However, with an 8% inflation rate, that adjustment didn’t even cover last year’s cost increase.

After decades of underfunding, and only one insufficient increase, an $810 million funding gap now exists for all nursing homes across New York state. That is a reality. How does this help elderly adults who are receiving skilled nursing care or will need skilled nursing care in the future? It does not.

We are watching nursing homes throughout New York shutter and close their doors.

Across the state, bed capacity has been severely reduced and facilities cannot recover.

Families reach out to us daily, seeking care for their loved ones. Sadly, we are often forced to turn them away due to inadequate Medicaid funding. This trend is unsustainable.

When beds aren’t available, our hospitals will have more elderly seniors at their doors, resulting in delays in emergency rooms, longer lengths of stay in our hospitals and less access to care overall.

This affects all of us.

We need a commitment from legislators to say no to Governor Hochul’s budget and to increase the Medicaid rate by 16% to better meet 2024 costs. Please contact your legislators today and advocate for the older adults in our community who need skilled nursing care.

They deserve better!

— Rob Raffle is the executive director of the Masonic Care Community and Christa Serafin is president and chief executive officer of the Sitrin Health Care Center.

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