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April 29, 2008
Nursing home supporters rally against proposed cuts
PROVIDENCE -- Several hundred nursing home supporters rallied at the State House rotunda this afternoon, protesting Governor Carcieri’s proposed cuts to payments to nursing homes and chanting “No cuts, no cuts,” as lawmakers arrived for the afternoon session.
“What these cuts mean is that nursing home residents will have to wait a little longer for help,” said Virginia M. Burke, president of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, as hundreds of protesters assembled on the steps of the rotunda and filled the second floor balcony. “These cuts will have a real human impact.”
Approximately 9,000 Rhode Islanders live in nursing homes across the state.
In an effort to bridge a projected $385 million deficit for the coming fiscal year, Carcieri has proposed a series of cuts across virtually all areas of state government. Nursing home advocates say that two areas targeted for reduction in their budgets -- delaying payment of an annual inflationary increase and reducing the labor reimbursement nursing homes receive -- are untenable and would result in the loss of matching federal money.
Under the governor’s budget plan, the state would save $1.9 million by delaying the inflation increase. Nursing home advocates point out that by doing so, the nursing homes would lose and additional $2.1 million in federal funds -- a net decrease of $4 million.
Because the inflationary increase comes one to two years after nursing homes have already paid their bills, the nursing homes are not being reimbursed for money they have already spent, Burke explained. Last year, a similar delay cost Rhode Island nursing homes $7 million, “in money they’ve already spent and will never get back,” Burke said.
-- Journal staff writer Jennifer D. Jordan
The other proposed cut would save the state $2.4 million by lowering the amount nursing homes are reimbursed for labor costs. Advocates say the nursing homes would lose an equal amount in matching federal money.
One local nursing home would have to lay off 12 percent of its staff in order to break even after the cuts, said Richard Gamache, administrator of the Elmhurst Extended Care Facility.
“When elders call the bell for help, who will be there? Who will help them get to a bathroom or help with meals or soiled sheets?” Gamache asked the cheering crowd. “Is that acceptable to you? These cuts are not only unacceptable -- they are insane.”
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:33 PM | Permalink
william guilfoyle | April 30, 2008 4:31 AM link
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