The end is in sight.
The New York state budget is now five days late, but lawmakers and the governor say they are “close” to finalizing a budget deal.
“We have a conceptual agreement on all issues, I think it's fair to say, the Senate, the Assembly, and myself,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference on Monday. “They are working it through with their conferences. We’re dotting some i’s, we're crossing some t's. But that's where we are.”
In the meantime, lawmakers did introduce three more budget bills over the weekend.
Tucked in to the Health and Mental Hygiene budget bill is the requirement that long-term care facilities spend at least 70% of their revenue on direct resident care. Additionally, within this 70%, at least 40% of revenue must be spent on resident-facing staff.”
Assemblyman Ron Kim, who has been at the forefront of this issue legislatively, says this is a step in the right direction.
“This is the compromise ratio,” Kim said. “I think it is a step in the right direction. But if you look at other states, the other states are already at 80%-90% mandating the for-profits make sure that they’re investing in the right places. It is the right thing to do.”
Nursing home worker unions like 1199SEIU have been advocating for changes to how nursing home facilities direct their revenue.
Milly Silva, executive vice president of 1199SEIU's nursing home vivision, released a statement that says, in part, “The past year has brought so much pain to residents, their families, and the workers who tirelessly provide the best care they can. If this budget language is adopted, the victory of these reforms belongs to all of them. Our members will continue to push for the rest of our reform agenda, including joining 38 other states in establishing minimum hours of care per resident, per day.”
However, Jim Clyne with Leading Age NY says this funding model is not the issue when it comes to reforming how nursing homes operate.
“Everyone supports being able to do that, but you still have to pay to keep the lights on, you have to pay your mortgage, you have to pay all these other costs,” Clyne said.
Over 70% of New York’s nursing home resident care is paid for through Medicaid.
And the state has cut Medicaid reimbursements to these facilities for about 12 years in a row.
Clyne says facilities could be at risk of shutting down if this reimbursement rate is not increased in this year’s budget.
“Outside studies have shown that New York state is the worst Medicaid payer in the country compared to every other state,” Clyne explained. “So that’s a real problem. How do you comply when the state, which funds 70% of nursing home care, doesn’t pay you enough? That’s the real issue.”
There could be an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate to these facilities in the revenue budget bill when it is dropped.
Legislative sources predict this could be as soon as Tuesday.