Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

- Subsribe at
April 9th, 2010

Nursing home privatization must be explored

Caring for and protecting our elderly must be a top priority for any municipality. Unfortunately, due to state and federal budget cutbacks in funding, it has become even more difficult for Sullivan County to attend to the needs of our senior population.

In even good times those requiring skilled nursing visits and home health aides have often found it an impossible task. Nursing services are minimal and hours allotted to home health aides are few and far between.

Our 160 bed nursing home facility has become increasingly more difficult and expensive for Sullivan County to run. Anticipated state funding has not been forthcoming, and during the past several years $3.4 million in payments has vanished, forcing our tax dollars to cover expenses.

The County has logically formed a task force to explore different options concerning the future of the nursing home. Although alternatives could include privatizing, shutting down the facility, or partnering with another entity, the county must do its due diligence to protect the interests of our seniors and taxpayers

CRMC has expressed an interest in running the nursing facility.

The Family Council which monitors the home is rightfully concerned over the County’s moves. The Council recently celebrated its 20 year anniversary of advocacy and has made many donations to benefit those residing at the home. They have provided for haircuts, donated flat-screen televisions, pianos, and patio furniture.

County Manager David Fanslau discussing the need for the task force noted New York State has eliminated the public nursing home grant, deferred much needed Medicaid reimbursement rate increases, and Inter-governmental Transfer (IGT) has been undependable. He said the County must plan for needed contingencies, because otherwise taxpayers would have to foot the bill.

The County might explore the Public Benefit Corporation model that has been used in Nassau County and Westchester County with an ability to utilize efficiencies from other institutions, such as the hospital.

Fanslau called on Albany to join with 48 other States and “eliminate the so-called local share of Medicaid.  Sullivan County sends $16 million to Albany for its local share of Medicaid, but in 2011, once the federal stimulus funds expire, that payment will exceed $20 million.”

Legislator Jodi Goodman said she is interested in the concept of sub cute and assisted living acute care. “Many people have come to me stating what a relief it would be to have those two concepts under one organization. We do not address assisted living and many families are trapped with not being able to care for elder and have no relief.”

Legislator David Sager noted, “We are at a point now where it is necessary to objectively and thoroughly take a look at our options.  I know that the SCACC has a history of being a quality facility, but I have received complaints from several families that were not pleased with the level of care being provided and opted to put their family members in a privately run facility.”

Several years ago I was contacted about mattresses at the facility. At the time, people were angry the county did not replace them because they did not have the funds to do so. Under privatization such funding could come from other avenues, because private entities are reimbursed from Medicare and Medicaid differently and receive other subsidies.

Sager added, “Catskill Regional Medical Center and The Roscoe Nursing Home are two private entities offering similar services to our public and have wonderful reputations for quality of care.  The concept that a private facility can’t provide quality services is misguided at best given my prior examples.”

“Public funding of social programs is starting to crumble under the current economic pressures and years of cost overages.  I promise the concerned public that I will try to look at all potential options at our disposal and make as fair and reasonable decision as possible.  I will not, however, make a decision that I think ultimately harms either the SCACC residents or the taxpayers at large.”

Legislator Ron Hiatt told me, “I loathe to lose the adult care center without it where can other than the wealthy find refuge. We might find a solution in a private public partnership.  The focus must be on the people and not the money.”

Whether the elderly are admitted for short-term rehabilitation (as nearly thirty percent are) or for longer-term placement, the Family Care Council has been their voice, and I am certain they will see to it that the legislature does the right thing when it comes to deciding the fate of the nursing home.

Comments are closed.