2005-01-28 / Community

Demand More SS Money For Local Adult Homes

Calling the rising number of adult home closures a “growing disaster for low income seniors,” adult home administrators, residents and State Legislators demanded an $11 per-day increase and a yearly cost of living adjustment in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) rate for adult home residents in the 2005-06 State Budget.

“Seventeen years of neglect by the state has led to a statewide closure crisis for adult homes serving low income elderly,” said Jim Kane, President of the Empire State Association of Adult Homes and Assisted Living Facilities and owner of thirteen SSI-focused adult homes across Upstate New York. Twenty percent of New York’s adult

homes have closed over the last six years, and many more will soon

follow. We need to close the growing gap between revenue and costs.”

The State Legislature approved an increase in the SSI rate for adult

home residents during the 2004 Session. The Governor vetoed the measure.

More than twelve thousand adult home residents, approximately one-third of New York’s total adult home population, rely on SSI for their care. The inadequate SSI rate of $28 per day is used to provide food, shelter, activities, personal care, case management, medication management and 24-hour-a-day supervision to adult home residents.

The State portion of SSI has not been increased since 1988. Over that same time period, the consumer price index has increased by 64 percent, the medical consumer price index by 133 percent and the minimum wage by 79 percent.

In May 2004, the New York State Association of Homes and Services for

the Aging (NYAHSA) issued a report (Closing Adult Care Facilities: Counting the Cost) which detailed the gap between the actual cost of providing care and available revenue in SSI-focused adult homes. According to that report, the average per resident/per day cost in adult homes is approximately $57, more than twice the current SSI rate.

As a result of the growing gap between revenue and expenses, 103 SSI-focused adult homes have closed over the last six years, displacing more than 5,100 low income residents. In 2004 alone, 29 homes closed and more than 1,500 beds were lost.

Many of the thousands of displaced low income elderly have been forced

into unnecessary, inappropriate placement in institutional settings such as nursing homes, hospitals, psychiatric centers and homeless shelters. The annual additional Medicaid cost associated with relocation of adult home residents into nursing homes is more than $29 million.

“Raising the SSI rate for adult homes will not only help vulnerable seniors and their families, it will save critical Medicaid dollars,” said Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre). “The choice before us couldn’t be clearer — From a moral and economic standpoint, we must raise the SSI rate for adult homes.”

“The Governor’s veto of the SSI increase last year dashed prospects for a viable future for adult homes and their residents,” said Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito (D-Rome). “Six months later, he is faced with a simple choice. Provide immediate help to struggling homes or risk an even larger catastrophe.”

“Last year, fourteen SSI-focused adult homes closed on Long Island

alone,” said Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, who represents Long Beach “Hundreds of residents were forced away from family and friends and into nursing homes. We can no longer sit by and watch as the crisis mounts. We need to increase the SSI rate now.”

“Since the Governor’s veto, the crisis has escalated,” said Jim Kane. “It is now a full-scale emergency for poor seniors.

We need immediate help.”

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