New York Can’t Print People.
New York’s staffing mandates may look good on paper, but Albany’s ultimatums must work for all residents, whether they live in Westchester or Wayne County. Currently, 75% of the state’s 614 nursing homes are struggling to meet new staffing mandate requirements due to a rapidly shrinking careforce pipeline. And thanks to 15 years of historic underfunding and stagnant Medicaid reimbursement rates, skilled nursing facilities have been forced to keep over 6,700 beds empty across the state, when they could go to a senior in need.
When hospitals can’t discharge seniors to skilled nursing care, New York’s ENTIRE health care system suffers. Inflation has caused operating costs to surge over the state budget’s reimbursement rate. Nursing homes are losing up to 25% on Medicaid admissions, resulting in closures. More than a troubling trend, New York’s closures represent lost jobs for the local economy and lost time for vulnerable seniors, who are unjustly torn away from their families and communities. When Medicaid in New York fails to cover the costs of care, seniors are left at risk of losing access.
The growing urban–rural divide in New York senior care won’t be solved with red tape, and mandating the number of nursing staff at skilled nursing facilities with a one-size-fits-all number is making matters worse. As New York Assembly Member Ron Kim puts it, “We need to center the solutions around the families [and] the workers that are on the ground, [who] have real time intelligence on the ground.” We agree. We should be centering our solutions around them, and we haven’t done that yet. State Senator Gustavo Rivera has stated that “decisions about nursing homes shouldn’t be about making the governor look good.” That’s true regardless of who’s in power. If Governor Kathy Hochul really wants “to ensure our aging New Yorkers have access to quality long-term care in healthy, livable communities where they can thrive,” she needs to further address the critical ongoing labor shortage with immigration reform, ongoing tuition reimbursement, and loan forgiveness for senior care workers. More than anything, New York needs to stand up and cover the ACTUAL cost of care.
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