Healthcare workers rally across NY to increase Medicaid reimbursement

Medicaid Reimbursement

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A union of healthcare workers organized dozens of rallies across the state, trying to get the attention of legislators and the governor. They want her to increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate paid to hospitals and nursing homes. This has become a real hot button issue.        

The pressure to increase the reimbursement rate for hospitals began with an onslaught of TV ads.

Then nursing home operators joined the fray, posting videos featuring older adults accusing the governor of failing to fund their care.

And then on Thursday, healthcare workers with 1199 SEIU held simultaneous rallies across New York state. And the plea for higher reimbursement rates has become a roar. Hospital administrators and nursing home operators argue the current Medicaid reimbursement rate doesn’t come close to covering the cost of care. In fact, nursing home leaders say the rate they’re paid is on average about $100 short per patient, per day of the actual cost of care. And healthcare workers argue that ultimately affects patient care.

“It causes an issue in retainment and recruitment, said Tiara Tazell, the union’s administrative organizer. Folks won’t stay. Facilities have a hard time keeping folks here because they can go somewhere else and get paid more and that’s a direct effect of Medicaid. Their salaries come from Medicaid.”

That’s largely true. Nursing home operators tell me that 60% or more of their residents are on Medicaid.  And because the Medicaid reimbursement rates are low, facility leaders can’t afford to raise their workers’ wages.

The governor, however, points to the fact that Medicaid spending has increased 4% over the last three years. And she hopes to cut a billion bucks from the Medicaid budget this year. Now the budget is in the hands of the legislature and then goes to the governor’s desk for approval.