Top Nursing Homes in New York Less Likely to Admit Poor People

Top ranking nursing homes in New York are less likely to admit poor residents despite a state and a federal ban on discriminating against the ability to pay during admissions. According to a recent analysis by The Buffalo News, New York nursing homes routinely deny admission to poor New Yorkers on Medicaid. A reason for denying admission is typically never provided but elder care advocates say it is not difficult to do the math. Medicare, the government-run health insurance program for the elderly, pays significantly more to nursing homes than Medicaid, the government-run health program for low-income New Yorkers. While the payouts differ depend on the region, an upstate New York nursing home can expect approximately $148,555 annually for each Medicare patient. For Medicaid patients, the reimbursement is almost half – just $86,505, according to The Buffalo News.

The price disparity has incentivized nursing homes to seek out wealthier patients, despite a statewide ban against the practice. Some nursing homes are particularly brazen in their efforts. For example, the five-star rated North Westchester Restorative Therapy and Nursing Center admitted zero Medicaid patients out of its 665 total admissions last year. Unable to gain admission to the state’s five-star nursing homes, Medicaid recipients are now taking a larger share of beds at the state’s worst facilities. At Riverdale Nursing Home in the Bronx, nearly two-thirds of new admissions to the one-star nursing home are Medicaid recipients.

When contacted by the Buffalo News, nursing homes denied discriminating against New Yorkers because of their ability to pay. Instead, the nursing homes say one-star facilities only have more Medicaid patients because they do not provide a higher quality of care, which means patients must stay in their facilities longer. While this could possibly be a contributing factor, several of the nursing homes appear to be egregiously violating the law – with Medicaid recipients comprising less than 5 percent of total admissions last year.

The New York Department of Health demurred when asked about its enforcement actions against discriminatory nursing homes. When asked by the Buffalo News, the health department merely told the newspaper that “anyone with a complaint should contact the Health Department so appropriate action can be taken.”

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