Ball pledges to work to restore funding
BREWSTER, NY (02/18/2011) – Senator Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security, and Military Affairs, today said that he is concerned by an all-out assault on New York's Veterans’ Homes in the form of a 10% across-the-board reduction to the state program.
The Governor's proposed budget includes a total cut to the Veterans’ Homes of $56.2 Million, or 36% of the total operating costs for the facilities, over 2 years. For the Montrose Veterans’ Home, the cuts total $9.4 Million, or 40% of the facility’s operating costs. According to Senator Ball, these cuts could potentially shut down these facilities.
“This assault on this vulnerable population was hopefully an oversight and must be corrected. We need to immediately raise the bar in delivering for those who represent the best of New York and America, our veterans,” Ball said. "Currently, the 1,220 beds in New York State’s Veterans’ Homes are at 95.2% occupancy, including 97% occupancy at the Montrose Veterans’ Home, located in my district. The Governor’s budget cuts the operations of these homes by 10% for 2011-2012 and reduces Medicaid reimbursement to the homes by 12.22% in 2011-12 and 20.63% in 2012-13. These cuts are too deep and we must protect these important services."
New York’s Veterans’ Home Program serves honorably discharged veterans, their spouses and widows, and gold star parents. The program provides comprehensive long-term care services, including short-term rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and end-of-life care.
“With 1 million veterans living in New York State, the State Veterans Home Program is an asset, not a burden,” said Fred Sganga, Director of the Stony Brook Veterans Home. “We need to educate government officials as to the value of this program, especially during this time of war.”
In 2007, Congress passed a Federal law allowing veterans who are 70% Service-Connected Disabled to receive “Full Cost of Care” at any State Veterans’ Home, with the United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs paying the total cost of care for these veterans. If a qualified veteran resides in another facility, New York State Medicaid pays the costs.
“We should be informing service-disabled veterans of benefits and programs, not depriving them,” Ball said. "The Governor’s cuts to the Veterans’ Homes are penny wise and pound foolish, and will be compounded by the loss of Federal Aid for every Veteran removed from a bed if that Veteran is eligible for the federal Aid & Attendance program. The federal government pays $684 monthly in aid to these veterans if they reside in a New York State Veterans’ Home and reimburses $752 monthly to Medicaid for every resident. If the veteran is moved to another facility, the federal government only pays $90 monthly to the veteran and the state does not receive a Medicaid reimbursement. These cuts just do not make sense and are simply heartless."
In response to these recent cuts and other ongoing issues, Senator Ball has called a Public Hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security, and Military Affairs to receive testimony on the gaps in veterans’ services. The hearing will be held at 11AM in Room 124 of the State Capitol, and will be immediately followed by a 1PM Veterans’ Rally outside the Capitol. Senator Ball also expects the Senate to pass landmark veterans’ legislation on March 14, and veterans statewide will visit the Assembly to urge similar action.