Healthcare leaders want a 20% hike in Medicaid reimbursement rates  

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – There are currently 1,200 nursing home beds in the Finger Lakes region that can’t be used because there simply aren’t enough people to care for those who would fill them. 

Healthcare staffing shortages have been impacting our community for many months now. 

A majority of nursing home patients in New York State are on Medicaid, meaning taxpayers cover the cost of their stay.  But, the facilities responsible for their care say the daily rate no longer covers the bill., “There has been essentially no increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate for 15 years, inflationary costs over that time have increased 42%,” says Lisa Marcello, the Vice President of Episcopal Senior Life. 

To break it down a little further, “Currently, today… providers receive just 61 cents on the dollar for the care they provide Medicaid patients,” explains Kathy Parrinello, the COO of Strong Hospital.  That’s why a number of nursing homes have closed or severely reduced the number of beds they have had available over the last few years.

Our area is of particular concern: “In the Finger Lakes region, there were more than 1,200 unstaffed, but available nursing home beds in the community, the inability to staff nursing home beds has resulted in crisis level backlog of patients in our hospitals,” Parrinello adds. 

It’s a topic News10NBC has reported on extensively in the past. “Each and every day in the emergency departments across the region, patients are sitting for hours and hours waiting on placement in a bed and that is because they can’t get a bed upstairs because we cannot discharge patients to the long term care facilities that they desperately need,” says Jennifer Eslinger, the COO of Rochester Regional Health. 

In the new state budget proposal, Governor Kathy Hochul calls for a 5% increase in the reimbursement rate.  While that’s the most that’s ever been suggested in nearly two decades, health care leaders say it’s not enough and State Senator Samra Brouk agrees. 

“We need a 20% rate increase in this year’s budget to make sure that all members of our community can access the care that they need,” Brouk says.  When asked where the money would come from to fund a 20% increase she said, “We had a history as state government of asking our systems to do more with less every single year and now, as we come off a COVID pandemic when we all had signs in our yards and talked about our healthcare heroes, as I’ve said many times, a sign in the yard is nice, but reimbursement rate increases and actually having staff there to take care of us is even better.”