New York elder care advocates rallied this weekend in an attempt to save the Horace Nye nursing home in Elizabethtown. The public facility may be the latest in our state to be privatized as a cost-cutting measure by the county. The Essex County supervisors are set to vote this week on whether to move forward with the plan to sell the public facility to private owners and operators.
All those working on New York elder law and Medicaid issues appreciate the concerns of those fighting the change. Studies from a wide-range of sources find that residents at private facilities are more likely than those in public homes to suffer nursing home abuse or neglect. Most point to staffing levels and compensation for direct-care workers as the difference. Private owners are more likely to lower pay and cut staffing levels in order to increase the facility’s profitability.
Regardless of the worries, there is a very clear trend in local governments getting out of the nursing home business. Facilities in Warren County, Washington County, and Saratoga County all may be sold in coming months. The motivation is obvious: local government budgets are tight. For example, those supporting the Essex County sale explain that the facility loses $2 million every year. A property tax cap is in place, and so it is difficult for the County to absorb rising costs.
What implications do these changes have on a New York elder law estate plan?
On one hand, changes in nursing home ownership trends do not change anything fundamental about creating one of these plans. Steps will still be put in place to maximize long-term financial goals, ensure inheritance wishes are documented, and plan for disability.
However, changes in how senior care is provided across the state may alter the strategies pursued by local residents to ensure they have alternative disability care options. Concerns about quality of care at local nursing homes may make it even more important to act early and secure long-term care insurance. For others, it will become even more important to understand what alternative long-term care options are available using Medicaid funds. Fortunately, there is a push to shift Medicaid funds away from institutionalized settings. If those trends continue, residents enrolled in the Medicaid programs may have more options if they suffer physical, mental, or medical setbacks and need day-to-day assistance.
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