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Health-care amendment would reduce funding to nursing homes

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24 March 2017
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An amendment to the Republican health-care plan, the latest stab at making the alternative to Obamacare more palatable to lawmakers, will decimate health-care coverage for the state’s oldest and most frail residents, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

Introduced late Wednesday by U.S. Reps. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, and John Faso, R-Kinderhook, the amendment to the American Health Care Act prohibits federal reimbursement of the local share of Medicaid funds paid by counties.

Reps. Tom Reed, R-Corning, and Claudia Tenney, R-Clinton, endorsed the amendment earlier this week.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said in a press release on Thursday that she supported the Faso/Collins amendment.

“Counties across my district and across New York are being unfairly subjected to massive financial liabilities being imposed by the state that can have severe impact on our local property taxes,” Stefanik said. “This amendment would make New York State take responsibility for their own budgeting, freeing up needed funds at the county level for local governments to use in our communities. I thank my colleagues in the New York delegation for their work on this important issue and will continue to work in Congress to serve the needs of my district."

Stefanik also listed on her website 11 local officials who support the amendment because the say it offers property tax relief to residents.

Nonetheless, the governor said on Thursday that this belief is false, pointing to an analysis by the state Department of Health that shows 26 nursing homes in the 21st Congressional District would lose $29.8 million in funding if the Ryan/Collins/Faso health-care repeal is passed.

"It would cripple their ability to provide critical services for seniors, hurting New York’s most vulnerable citizens and jeopardizing hundreds of jobs across the district," he said. "The massive cuts in funding to nursing homes in Congresswoman Stefanik's district underscore the devastating impact the combination of the Collins/Faso amendment and Paul Ryan health care replacement plan will have on New Yorkers across the state."

Cuomo continued: "The Faso/Collins amendment is really a despicable attempt to buy votes at the cost of their constituents," Cuomo said. "These devastating cuts will cripple health-care services in communities across New York, with $29.8 million in cuts to nursing homes in the 21st District alone.”

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According to Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association, the state’s nursing homes are already in dire financial straits.

“Almost 75 percent of the state’s nursing home resident care is funded by Medicaid,” he said. “At the current time, there is a $46 per patient per day shortfall in what nursing homes are paid and what it costs to care for patients.”

The New York State Health Facilities Association represents the state’s public, private and not-for-profit nursing homes.

Hanse said that as the bill stands right now, there will be $401 million in cuts to New York nursing homes.

“If the cuts would go through, this will really have the potential to devastate nursing homes,” Hanse said. “Add to that the silver tsunami that is already coming to New York nursing homes … the margins are so close there is the potential to negatively impact area facilities.”

State Department of Health estimates claim that in this region, millions of dollars are at stake for area facilities. For example, Saratoga Center for Rehab and Skilled Nursing Care faces $2,207,830 in cuts; The Pines at Glens Falls Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation, $862,265 in cuts; and Fort Hudson Nursing Center Inc., $1,765,671 in cuts.

“These are significant cuts,” Hanse said. “We have presented our concerns to our two senators and to congressmen to help members of Congress understand.”

During his conference call with reporters, the governor said that this amendment means that New York will be left with few options and, if passed, it could mean significantly raising taxes, but he refuses to take that step.

"I am not going to allow their political schemes to make New Yorkers pay more taxes ... I am not going to allow this state to be hurt by this," he said. "I am seriously considering a lawsuit on behalf of the people of New York."

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