A hole in the safety net

A hole in the safety net

Local nursing homes and agencies that care for the aged were chilled this summer when the Christie administration proposed to restructure the state’s Medicaid program and cut more than $300 million to help close a deficit. The proposal sharply limited those eligible for coverage. Although deeply disappointed in the formula, institutions went ahead and created austerity budgets for their fiscal years.

Then the other shoe dropped. The new reimbursement system, which would raise reimburse rates for nursing homes whose patients required greater care, would have meant a significant loss of revenue for homes serving healthier patients. The rules changed again to a seemingly more equitable formula, but, coupled with a $75 million reduction in Medicaid reimbursements for long-term care, this meant that homes had to adjust to even deeper cuts. The seven Jewish nursing homes in New Jersey stand to lose nearly $3.2 million in Medicaid reimbursements for fiscal year 2012-13 (see Related Article).

Nursing homes run by the Jewish community and similar nonprofits have long been a model public-private partnership. Philanthropy combined with government assistance allows homes to offer quality care to the ill, dignity to the aged, and relief for burdened families. Federations around the state are asking state legislators to support supplemental appropriations to restore the cuts — if not for this year, then in budget years to come. Given the economic climate, they know it is a long shot, but necessity insists that they try. Meanwhile, nonprofit nursing homes and the agencies and federations that support them are reminding donors that, as the year draws to a close, so too do opportunities to claim deductions on charitable gifts.

In this season of light, they are asking members of the community to enlighten lawmakers through citizen involvement, and to lighten their burden through individual generosity.

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