County nursing homes facing financial challenges

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September 10, 2013

The vast majority of the state’s county-run nursing homes are losing money and facing a shaky financial future according to the findings of a new study by the Center for Governmental Research.

In recent years six New York counties have sold or closed their nursing homes, and as costs continue to rise, many others are considering privatization as a solution.

Average operating losses quadrupled between 2001 and 2010, partly due to a steep rise in employee benefits costs at county-run homes, according to the report.

Study director Don Pryor says homes that have been sold have yielded mixed results with some maintaining or improving levels of care. Others are failing to meet standards.

He says counties need to do their homework before selling a facility, and consideration needs to be given to long-term care strategies.

“One of the priorities for any county, before it makes any final decision about the future of its nursing home, is that they really need to look at the range of long-term care services that are currently available in the county.”

Pryor says most counties are ill-equipped to deal with the needs of an aging population and decisions about county-run homes are typically being made without regard to the long-term context.