March 2001
View Points 2001

From the New York State Assembly Black Square Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Richard N. Gottfried, Chair, Committee on Health Black Square Steve Englebright, Chair, Committee on Aging



Assembly Budget Proposal Restores Governorís Cuts to Nursing Homes and Home Health Care Services

Protects the most vulnerable members of
our communities — the frail elderly and disabled

The Assemblyís budget resolution restores all of the Governorís proposed cuts to Medicaid, paving the way for $327 million* to help nursing homes and home health care services provide quality care.

At a time when the State expects a nearly $4 billion surplus, it is unconscionable that the Governorís budget proposal slashes Medicaid funding to the most vulnerable members of our society.

Nursing Homes

New Yorkís nursing homes are facing severe staffing shortages, and many of them are losing money. Even as they struggle to provide quality care, the Governorís budget cuts back on the resources they need.

The shortage of registered nurses and certified nurse aides poses a heavy burden for nursing home employees ĖĖ and adversely affects the quality of care they are able to give their patients. Thatís why the Assembly Majorityís budget proposal sets aside $100 million in new funding to address nursing home quality of care and staffing issues. Under our budget, the state will also pick up the countiesí share of this cost so local taxpayers wonít have to bear the burden. The new state funding will draw $100 million in matching funds from the Federal Government.

The Department of Health would also be directed to hire additional nursing home inspection and surveillance staff and provide for new training initiatives for all inspectors in order to better identify problems in residential health care facilities.

And to protect our vulnerable nursing home residents, we will take steps to ensure that the provision of quality care is the top priority. Our plan will also:

  • enhance staffing levels;

  • improve accountability;

  • establish a hotline to receive nursing home complaints;

  • direct the Department of Health to disclose to the public incidents of adverse patient care on an annual basis; and,

  • increase fines for nursing homes that do not take appropriate corrective actions.

Hospitals

The need to recruit and retain qualified nurses and nursesí aides is also of paramount importance to New Yorkís hospitals. To address hospitalsí operating and staffing needs, the Assemblyís budget proposal sets aside $50 million to help them deliver quality health care services and recruit and retain experienced health care workers.

Home Health Care

Another essential component of New York Stateís health care delivery system is home health care, which enables the frail elderly and individuals with disabilities to remain in their homes and still receive the care they need. The Assembly budget proposal includes an additional $5 million to address home care workforce issues ĖĖ an appropriation which will make an additional $5 million available through federal matching funds.

The Assembly will continue fighting to ensure the health and well-being of all New Yorkers

The Assembly has consistently fought to make New York a more affordable, healthier place to live.

In addition to improving the quality of our nursing homes and home health care services, the Assembly budget rejects the Governorís proposal to cut $34.5 million in state support from the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program, which provides seniors with affordable prescription medication.

It is essential that we give nursing homes, hospitals and home health professionals the tools they need to do their jobs. As this yearís budget negotiations proceed, we urge the Senate to join us in budget conference committees to work out an agreement that reinforces a strong commitment to maintaining the health, well-being and independence of all New Yorkers.

*Includes state, federal and local shares

What long term care providers are saying about the Governorís proposed cuts: *


"I ...cannot understand the rationale behind the Governorís reasoning for a decrease in nursing home funding. Residents of nursing homes are now receiving minimal care....The Governorís decision is a horrendous one and may possibly be life threatening."

  • William Nichols
    Certified Nurse Aide
    Masonic Home, Utica

"I wear many hats in my job ĖĖ nurseís aide, social worker, physical therapist, recreational therapist, dietary worker, pastoral care, the list goes on and on. I barely can keep up with my nursing duties let alone the rest....Quality care cannot be given by workers who are continually working 12 to 15 hours daily."

  • Gail Stubbs
    Certified Nurse Aide
    Loretto Geriatric Center, Syracuse

"I believe that the lack of sufficient funds to maintain and attract competent staff to our nursing homes has created a loss of quality care that is given to us residents. In my sixteen years as a resident in a nursing home, I have seen the CNA job become harder and harder with the type of residents who are now entering the nursing homes. Staffing levels have become shorter, workloads have increased, pay and benefits have not increased."

  • Salvatore Speranza, Resident
    St. Johnís Nursing Home

"Why do some of us remain?...We want what our society wants, what our government wants and what consumers want. We want excellence in care for our residents. We are the ones providing that care. We see our mothers and fathers and grandparents in each of our residents, and we see our own humanity."

  • Gail Brocious, RN
    Certified Gerontological Nurse

"Look at the needs of the individuals we serve. They are more complicated than they ever were. Many of the individuals living in our nursing homes have children that are in their seventies and even eighties. This means they are not able to provide the support they might like because of their own needs....Health care workers are burning out because they are working double shifts and are being called in on days off...There can be no consistency of care in this atmosphere of turnover, shortages and low performance levels."

  • Sandra L. Swayze

"Myth: Nursing homes have reaped record profits over the past five years.

Reality: The recently-released State Department of Health (DOH) report making this bizarre allegation is a clear attempt by the Pataki Administration to justify Medicaid cuts to nursing homes and is deliberately misleading."

  • Frank Tripodi
    NY Association of Homes and
    Services for the Aging

"We are taught as nursing assistants that the nursing home is the residentsí HOME. We go there though and have to rush them to get up in time for breakfast, rush them to go to the bathroom, rush them through everything. What kind of life is that?...A nursing home is not a factory and it should be quality, not quantity. Staffing levels need to be increased, period."

  • Tracy L. Finger
    Certified Nursing Assistant
    Cooperstown, NY

"In the three years that I have been Ombudsman coordinator, our complaints have increased from 603 in 1998 to 784 in 2000. I am concerned that the governorís budget has called for a decrease in funding for the Ombudsman Program, while my complaints have increased by 26%."

  • Ronni Abramovitz
    Monroe County Long Term Care
    Ombudsman Program

*From testimony given at a hearing of the
Assembly Committees on Health and Aging in
Rochester  white square  January 31, 2001


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