Local governments, facing tough fiscal times, have begun to peel away services they've provided in the past. The concern is rising costs and pressures for higher taxes. YNN's Bill Carey says there are new concerns about the future for nursing home services provided by counties across New York State.
CENTRAL NEW YORK -- The Civil Service Employees Association, which represents workers at Cayuga County's nursing home, is raising warning flags. The county is moving toward a potential sale of the facility to a private vendor. And they claim voters have told them that this is the type of service that government should provide.
“People, we believe, value that nursing home and value having that quality of care and it's really in jeopardy if they choose to go private,” CSEA spokesman Mark Kotzin said.
And Cayuga County is not alone. Counties across New York are reconsidering ownership of their own nursing homes. Onondaga County is considering selling its Van Duyn facility. It's a case of skyrocketing costs and a dwindling tax base.
“The projection going forward is, over the next 10 years, that the county would have to subsidize Van Duyn to the tune of $115 million. And when we look at those numbers and the pressure that would put on the taxpayer. It makes sense for us to look at a private vendor,” said Deputy Onondaga County Executive Ann Rooney.
The concern is for those in the most need, who cannot afford rates charged by private nursing homes, who have been able, in the past, to turn to public facilities for care.
Kotzin said, “It's called a safety net and that mandate exists in the public homes where it really doesn't in the private homes.”
And some Cayuga County legislators are struggling to find another option that would maintain services, while easing the cost burden for taxpayers.
“Our seniors, being as vulnerable as they are, I do not want to have them in a situation where they're not being properly cared for. I'd rather stay in the business than give it up to some operator who is just in it for the dollars,” said Cayuga County Legislator Timothy Lattimore.
The trend, though, is for this type of public service, to end.