An urgent plea for Medicaid reimbursement reform in nursing homes

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I write to highlight a critical and timely issue affecting the care of seniors and individuals with disabilities in our community.

In collaboration with like-minded statewide organizations, Rochester’s nursing home leaders, including myself, are urgently calling for reforms to New York’s nursing home Medicaid reimbursement policies. Considering Governor Hochul’s newly proposed budget calling for $1 billion in cuts for Medicaid funding, I am even more alarmed on behalf of our elderly.

Except for a modest increase in 2022, Upstate New York nursing homes have not seen a reimbursement increase in 15 years; the current rate covers only 50-60% of actual costs. We strongly urge Governor Hochul for a $510 million investment in the 2024-25 Executive Budget, coupled with a pledge to reform the system by 2025. This is crucial to addressing the $810 million annual funding gap in Medicaid reimbursement, impacting 97,000 residents statewide.

Currently, NY’s Medicaid program, the primary payer for nursing home care in the state, falls significantly short in meeting annual costs, exacerbating staff recruitment and retention challenges and impacting access to quality care.

As the third-generation owner and president of Hurlbut Care Communities with 11 facilities, I can state without reservation that insufficient Medicaid funding hampers our ability to provide quality care and admit new residents.

Since 2019, a reduction of 5,600 nursing home beds compounds the challenge for those seeking quality care. We implore Governor Hochul to address these issues promptly. Medicaid reimbursement reforms are vital to ensuring access to quality care, supporting staff, and meeting the demands of our aging population.

Robert Hurlbut
President, Hurlbut Care Communities

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2 thoughts on “An urgent plea for Medicaid reimbursement reform in nursing homes

  1. I don’t intend to offer any offense. But, As the owner of multiple nursing facilities by Mr. Hulbert, it’s a challenge to overcome suspicion that there isn’t at least a modicum of self-interest in his letter.
    I agree that Medicare and Medicaid need to align their reimbursement rates to fund current needs realistically.
    Sadly, other operators have demonstrated that they are only in the business to make as much money as possible, as several TV News stories over the years proved some had deplorable conditions, chronic shortages of qualified caregivers, and little or no management oversight.

    I want to add that along with any reimbursement increase, sufficient funding is provided at the state and federal levels to ensure a significant increase in inspectors and regulatory enforcement.
    It is also prudent to evaluate how much and for how long insurance companies can help reduce the financial burden for vulnerable patients in nursing homes.

    I’ve been fortunate to be able to have recovered from surgery on several occasions at the Jewish Home of Rochester. However, I believe they have very generous benefactors covering shortfalls in funding, as they provided me with exceptional short-term care.

    Another inducement for greater government reimbursement is that too many patients are being relegated to more expensive hospital emergency departments and hallways because of pandemic and post-pandemic-related chaos and uncertainty. SMH reported last week that they exceeded their authorized in-patient limits and also have a chronically overloaded emergency department because once a nursing home sends a patient to the hospital, there is no provision for them to take them back.

    Local and state representatives must conduct a listening session with all the regional stakeholders to develop a workable and equitable solution. After all, the “Boomer” generation is aging, and in short order, there is likely to be a significant uptick in the need for nursing home beds for long-term care.

  2. I firmly stand with Bob Hurlbut on this request for more funding. We as a community need to send a message to Governor Hochul since this is NOT a self servicing ask/ issue/concern of nursing home owners – it is an ask/issue and concern for anyone over 50 who will likely need this care or has a loved one in need!
    I suggest the Rochester Beacon readers who agree, join me in writing Governor Hochul @
    New York State Capital Building Albany New York 12224. You can also call – 518-474-8390

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