Local health-care providers had plenty to say Wednesday when state Sen. George Winner, R-Elmira, and state Assemblyman Jim Bacalles, R-Corning, discussed Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposed budget.
Local health-care providers had plenty to say Wednesday when state Sen. George Winner, R-Elmira, and state Assemblyman Jim Bacalles, R-Corning, came to Hornell to talk about Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposed budget.
Those health-care providers said cuts in Medicaid will hurt hospitals and nursing homes.
Part of the problem, said James Bicker, Hornell Gardens administrator, is the state has held off on rebasing Medicaid rates for nursing homes.
Bicker said the current Medicaid reimbursement rates are based on figures from 1983, and even though a state law was passed to update the base rate, Spitzer has held off on the proposal to keep Medicaid reimbursements down.
“Eighty percent of my patient-days are Medicaid,” Bicker said, “so you can see the impact. This, to my facility, is almost $250,000 a year. $250,000 out of a budget of $6 million is not pocket change.
“We’re a for-profit establishment, which is a very, very loose term in the health-care industry,” he said. “We lose $6 a day on Medicaid patients.”
Because of the losses, others are paying the price.
“The only choice you have is to raise the non-Medicaid rates up,” Bacalles said, adding when his mother was in a nursing home, he paid approximately 40 percent more for her stay than what Medicaid patients were billed.
Bacalles said Spitzer has held off on the re-base proposal because downstate nursing homes hired more employees than needed as a form of economic development, and then fired those extra employees after the base Medicaid rates were set.
Mary LaRowe, president and CEO of St. James Mercy Health System, said the not-for-profit hospital is becoming “even more not-for-profit.”
“But where I’m challenged is we don’t know what the cuts are for us,” she said. “We don’t even know how to plan.”
The lack of funding for mental health care has caused several facilities across the state to shut down, LaRowe said.
“The cost of our care, if it reaches $1,000 a day, and we are getting reimbursed $500, how long do you think we will have that service?” LaRowe said.
With hospitals dropping programs, Bacalles feels residents will suffer.
“We’re not like New York City,” he said, “where you can go around the block and find another hospital. You have to drive 20 miles.”
The Evening Tribune