Consumer Alert: Nursing home operators ask for increase in Medicaid reimbursement

Consumer Alert: Medicaid Funding

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It was a room full of residents at the Jewish home and legislators who represent them.

Nursing home operators are asking for an increase in Medicaid reimbursement this year as well as annual rebasing. What that means is the state looking at the cost of care each year and increasing reimbursement to reflect that.

But with a giant state budget deficit, the argument for increases may be a tough one.

Jewish Senior Life of Rochester released a video meant to send a clear message to the governor… increase Medicaid reimbursement rates to nursing homes.

Mary Hemingway is retired teacher and Jewish home resident featured in the video.

Deanna Dewberry: “If you could speak to the governor right now, what would you say?”

Mary Hemingway: I would say open up your pocketbook and give us the money that we need.”

That’s the increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate nursing home operators say is needed to stay afloat.

Josh Jensen said, “I’m pretty sure I’m the only member of the New York State Legislature who has ever worked in a nursing home.”

Standing before an audience of nursing home residents, state legislators, democrat and republican who say this issue transcends party politics.

“Budgets are statement of priorities,” said Josh Jensen.

And Republican Assemblymember Josh Jenson says adequately funding long-term care must be a priority, but these legislators are pushing for increased Medicaid spending in the face of a state budget deficient of more than $4 billion.

So the governor is proposing Medicaid cuts after spending increased 11% 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,” said Governor Hochul.

That puts the proverbial ball squarely in the court of legislators. If they want to increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate, what else can they cut?

“Money doesn’t grow on trees and we’ve got to figure out what we’re doing here but there are places where we can take out the middleman. Where we can ensure that that the dollars are going to the provider and the care of patients,” said Sarah Clark, (D) Assembly District 136.

Nursing home operators say currently that’s not where the dollars are going. Mike King says the state’s daily reimbursement rate for Medicaid residents is about $100 short of the actual cost of care.

“Here at the Jewish home, it adds up to around $5, 6 million annually,” said Mike King.

Deanna Dewberry: “What percentage of your residents would you say are on Medicaid?

Mike King: “Over 60-percent.”

And all here argue eventually elders will pay the price in the declining quality and availability of care.

News10NBC reached out to the governor’s office as well as the NY Department of Health. 

A spokesman for the department of health said this:

“The department will continue to support nursing homes across New York State, and as the health and well-being of patients are paramount, we remain dedicated to ensuring that nursing homes providers keep them safe.”

They point to the fact that reimbursement rates have increased recently but operators call the increase modest and woefully inadequate.

Of course, this will be settled by legislators and ultimately the governor who will decide whether to approve the budget.