WEEKEND EDITION

Counties Struggle With Nursing Home Costs

| July 31, 2012 4:00 AM video

In New York state, county-run nursing homes might become a thing of the past. With skyrocketing costs and more and more people needing care, counties are starting to wonder whether they can afford it anymore. County executives are considering privatization.

County-run nursing homes in New York are facing financial woes. Flickr/ ulrichkarljoho

In nearby Orange County, home to Newburgh, Middletown and Goshen, County Executive Edward A. Diana made the case for handing off management of Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehab in his 2012 State of the County address.

“Government can no longer afford to operate a long term health care facility…The private and non-profit sectors have the ability to efficiently run the facility to ensure the high quality of care continues for future generations,” he said.

Susan Arbetter of WCNY’s Capital Report found that while counties “view their role in caring for the aged as part of their social mandate,” whether or not to privatize isn’t the only concern facing the upstate counties.

WATCH VIDEO:

Susan Arbetter finds that although costs are soaring, and counties can no longer afford to pay for nursing homes, a bigger threat may be coming from Washington. Video courtesy of WCNY’s Capital Report.

In Washington this week, Congress is scheduled to vote to either end or continue both the Bush tax cuts and the Obama payroll tax cut.

“The 1 trillion dollar cost of those tax cuts is going to be devastating for Medicare,” Karen Scharff, executive cirector of the progressive organization Citizen Action New York told Arbetter.

According to Diana, cuts from the federal and state government to rehabilitation and nursing centers show that county-run nursing centers will soon be a thing of the past.

“The federal and state governments simply do not want county governments in the nursing home business, and they have sent this message loud and clear by continually reducing aid and support,” he said in his State of the County speech.

So where will the money come from? That remains to be seen.

To complicate matters, last week the New England Journal of Medicine published a report that found that state expansions of the Medicaid health insurance program reduced adult mortality rates by more than six percent compared with states that did not broaden eligibility for their plans. The Supreme Court’s ruling in June on “Obamacare” left it up to states to decide “whether to participate in the law’s broader eligibility criteria for Medicaid that would extend insurance coverage to as many as 16 million more Americans starting in 2014.”

 

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