ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Elected officials say the daily Medicaid rate has not been raised in some 15 years, and the deficit left is creating problems — particularly for nursing homes, some of which could see their doors close. What this could cause is an implosion of the healthcare industry in New York State.

Senator Jeremy Cooney says we’re at a breaking point with this. The low Medicaid rate affects everything from staff wages, to medication, to bathing, to meals: everything residents and staff need daily to keep going. 

What he’s calling for is a 20% rate increase for Medicaid in care facilities, and for that rate to be tied to inflation so this conversation doesn’t repeat itself year after year. 

New York State sets the daily Medicaid rate and we’ve only seen about a 1% increase since 2008.

Cooney says the state currently gives back about $240 per day, but the cost is actually closer to about $380. He says nursing homes are essentially losing money by taking care of folks.

Leaders say we are far away from the costs needed to house those who need skilled nursing services, and what the state reimburses local nursing homes for. He said elected officials have let this fly under the radar for years, with advocates asking for too long.

“Budgets are a reflection of our priorities, and what it seems like to me is our aging population is not becoming one of those priorities,” Cooney said. “That’s absolutely the wrong attitude to have. I think we learned throughout the pandemic the state of care in some of our nursing homes. We are blessed in Rochester to have wonderful nursing care facilities, but they can’t provide the level of service that our seniors need if they are not getting reimbursed at fair levels, and we’ve got to do something about it in this year’s budget.”

Michael King with Jewish Senior Life says it’s time for New York State to figure this out when it comes to residents and for nursing home staff. 

“We’re trying to stay as competitive as possible as we can on our wages,” King said. “We’re at a minimum of $15 here at our organization, and others here in Rochester are the same, but that’s not enough. We want to put more dollars into our employee’s pockets, and we want to continue to pay our mortgages, pay the high cost of food, and also provide really enhanced quality of life for the residents who live in our buildings. It’s really time for New York to step up and prioritize our older adults.”

Senator Cooney did add our region has the fast-growing aging population in the whole state. The New York State budget is due on April 1st.