Governor’s budget proposal does not increase Medicaid reimbursement rate for hospitals/nursing homes

Reimbursement Rates

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Local hospitals and nursing homes are in panic mode. They were expecting an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate but Governor Kathy Hochul’s new budget shut them out.  For the first time in more than a decade, there was a 7.5% increase in the rate last year but this year, the governor’s budget holds the rate steady. 

There’s no question our local hospitals are packed. “We’re a 900 bed hospital, we have not dropped below about 950 patients in our hospital in almost a year, we’ve gone as high as 1,100, today we’re about 980,” says Kathy Parrinello, the chief operating officer of Strong Hospital. Thirty percent of the people who need care at Strong are on Medicaid. “Whe population covered by the Medicaid program is typically larger in hospitals like ours that have the trauma program, that have the children’s hospital, that have a large psychiatric hospital, that have a large OB program,” she explains. 

The current reimbursement rate for those patients, Parrinello says, isn’t cutting it. “How do we possibly cover our health care costs when when we are paid 70 cents on the dollar?”

There’s the direct issue of money for hospitals but then, there’s a major secondary issue. Since 2020, 1,500 nursing home beds in the Rochester region have closed. Without an increase in the Medicaid rate for nursing homes, those beds are not likely to reopen. “If patients can’t go to long-term care because those beds aren’t open, they just stay in the hospital so, everyone suffers,” Parrinello says.

It’s an issue News10NBC has been reporting on at length over the last several months and one that our state delegation of lawmakers acknowledges. “You take our aging population, you tie it with a shortage of hospital beds and we have a real health care crisis,” says NYS Senator Jeremy Cooney. “So, while this is impacting the entire state of New York, I would make the argument and will continue to make the argument in Albany, that it’s affecting Monroe County and the families of Monroe county more so than anyone else.”

Senator Samra Brouk says if the governor is waiting for a “rainy day” to help fill the Medicaid gap, it’s here. “It is pouring and we are in that crisis,” she says.

Both Brouk and Cooney says they’ll spend the next few weeks advocating in Albany for an increase of at least 10% in the Medicaid reimbursement rate. “We have certainly been calling, texting, meeting, we had the healthcare hearing last week,” Senator Cooney says. “We have to put our money where our mouth is, we have to make sure that we’re dedicating resources and that may mean that other things have to go away, no one likes to be in that position but that’s the reality.”

Governor Kathy Hochul’s Office and the State Department of Health have told News10NBC that there are other avenues for hospitals and nursing homes to get additional funding which most of them take advantage of. 

New York also pays the most per capita for Medicaid costs compared to any other state in the country so, that has to be considered during the budgeting process as well.

The governor’s budget proposal is typically a starting point for negotiations with the legislature. The final budget is due April 1 2024.