Consumer Alert: Cost of care for people in nursing homes

Consumer Alert: Nursing Homes

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Our Consumer Alert looks at the cost of care for our elders.

State nursing home operators say they’re facing a crisis and they place the blame at the feet of New York State politicians.

Bob Hurlbut, who owns 11 nursing homes in our areas, is sounding the alarm about it – and is not happy with the governor. He says the state refuses to pay a reasonable rate for nursing home residents on Medicaid.

As New York grapples with a $4 billion deficit, he’s trying desperately to get the attention of folks in Albany.

“Medicaid is the predominant payer in New York state for long-term care,” he said.

Deanna Dewberry, News10NBC: “Tell me again how long it’s been since Medicaid rates have increased.”

Bob Hurlbut: “Fifteen years.”

That’s excluding a modest increase last year, which he says meant little because former Gov. Andrew Cuomo had actually decreased Medicaid funding during the pandemic.

Dewberry: “There are certainly those who believe that for-profit nursing homes sacrifice quality of care on the altar of making a profit. You say what to that?”

Hurlbut: “That’s impossible. I wouldn’t be here if I did that.”

I checked the inspection records for each and all perform above state averages in almost every category.

Dewberry: “A lot of people would ask, how do you continue to run a business? You are running a business and you’re a for-profit industry. Are you making a profit?

Hurlbut: “I haven’t paid taxes in three years.”

He says he’s not paid personal income taxes because he’s losing money.

And he’s not the only one. New York nursing homes are reportedly $1.6 billion in the red: an industry in critical condition, hemorrhaging money by the day. According to Hurlbut, the amount nursing homes are being paid per Medicaid resident is $98.73 short of what’s needed.

“I’m asking for $510 million to be put in the state budget. I think that’s more than fair.”

Bob Hurlbut

He says adding that money to the state’s Medicaid budget would provide nursing homes a reasonable Medicaid reimbursement rate. But during the governor’s budget address, she said this:

“What we have to pay out increased 11 percent just since last year. Over the last three years our Medicaid spending is up 40 percent and we’re trying to find ways now to save over a billion dollars in Medicaid,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

Translation? She plans to cut Medicaid spending. If Hurlbut could talk directly to the governor, what would he say?

“I’d say it’s time for you to wake up. You need to start taking care of the elderly.”