Parker Jewish Institute President and CEO Michael N. Rosenblut joined healthcare workers, elected officials, union leaders, and residents at Parker on Thursday to oppose the New York State Department of Health’s $250 million cut to nursing homes.
Expected to go into effect on November 6, 2019, the looming cuts come at a time when the aging population is growing, and demand for the services of skilled nursing facilities is on the rise. Currently, there are 3.2 million New York State residents who are 65 and older, and that number is expected to increase by 1 million in the next 10 years.
Healthcare advocates warn that the impending cuts will jeopardize jobs and quality of care in nursing homes, putting more than 600 nursing homes throughout New York State at risk. Nursing homes, some of which are already operating in negative margins, would be forced to reduce staffing and salaries, and the quality of care would suffer, directly impacting families across the state, including on Long Island.
The cuts are retroactive to July, and would further threaten nursing homes and healthcare workers as well as patients and residents in need.
Advocates now urge the Department of Health to stop the cuts and reopen its task force to include nursing home representatives — a community that was not part of the department’s earlier discussions — to discuss budget recommendations.
“We are calling on the New York State Department of Health to reverse these looming cuts, so that nursing homes on Long Island and across the state can continue to provide quality care to the region’s older adults and to keep our healthcare workers employed,” Mr. Rosenblut said. “Nursing homes play a critical role in the region. Parker, for example, serves more than 7,000 individuals annually, employs more than 1,110 staff members, and contributes more than $25 million to the local economy each year. We urge the Department of Health now to stop these cuts, which would fall on the backs of seniors and their families.”
At the press conference, Mr. Rosenblut stood alongside local leaders to urge Albany to overturn the budget cuts. These local leaders included Luis Valenzuela of the Long Island Healthcare Education Project, Assembly Member Phil Ramos, Suffolk County Legislator Sam Gonzalez, Assembly Member David Weprin, Council Member Barry Grodenchik, Health Care Worker Geeta Sagar, Long Island Federation of Labor Executive Director Roger Clayman, and additional members of the 1199SEIU — the nation’s largest healthcare union. Parker residents and employees were present to show their support.
Also speaking against the cuts was Ray Green, president of Parker’s Resident Council. As Green explained, he arrived at Parker for rehabilitation more than 3½ years ago, after he was paralyzed from a spinal infection.
“The doctors told me I would never walk again,” Green said. “But I was determined. After two years, I can walk again, but I could not do it without the help of the staff at Parker.”
Calling on Albany officials, Green said, “By imposing these cuts you are jeopardizing the care of thousands of seniors who need quality long-term care. We need these nursing homes. I urge you to protect us to do all that you can.”