Cuomo cuts could force nursing home closures

Ralph says Cuomo's proposed cuts could be devastating for AMC, noting they could result in the end of nursing home care in the North Country and throughout upstate New York.

"Let's hope that it's not just that we're going to cut a certain percentage," she said. "Right now, you qualify for Medicaid at 400 percent of the federal poverty level, making it one of the richest programs in the country. Can we back that off to 200 percent? I'm not proposing anything, but I'm saying we have to make tough decisions now and we need fundamental reform with Medicaid."

Gov. Cuomo wants a budget in place by April 1. Ralph says that's not enough time to fundamentally change flawed programs like Medicaid.

Instead, she thinks it will result in simplistic and systematic cuts.

"I'm very worried about it and I think what the governor needs to really look at is beyond the short-term," Ralph said. "Long-term, he's going to see - if these draconian cuts go through as he has indicated they might if we don't come up with quicker solutions - hospitals and nursing homes fail."

Ralph wonders whether Cuomo is ready to deal with the repercussions if health care providers begin shuttering facilities.

"Maybe he is - I can't speculate what he's thinking," she said. "But communities need to understand that there comes a point of no return, when after you've cut you can do it no more and still provide quality services. I think all of us, looking at all of our institutions, say if it gets to the point where I can't have a staff present to provide a quality product, I'd rather shut the institution down. I'm not saying that is what AMC is going to be doing, but that decision will be made by a lot of providers."

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