Skelos And Weisenberg Join Effort To Enhance Funding For Adult Homes

Dean G. Skelos

January 17, 2005

Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) joined with the Empire State Association of Adult Homes and Assisted Living Facilities to call for an $11 per day increase and yearly cost of living adjustments in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) rate for adult home residents in the 2005-06 State Budget.

In 2004, four adult homes in the City of Long Beach closed. The loss of these facilities—Ambassador Manor, Brighton Home for Adults, King David and Atlantic—eliminated 688 beds for local seniors. Across Long Island, 14 adult homes closed during 2004 and, since 1999, 25 such facilities have closed resulting in a loss of 1,658 beds for Nassau and Suffolk county seniors.

"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."

"Last year, fourteen SSI-focused adult homes closed on Long Island alone," said Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, (D-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."

The state portion of SSI has not been increased since 1988. Over that same period, the consumer price index has increased by 64%, the medical consumer price index by 133% and the minimum wage by 79%. While the State Legislature approved an increase in the SSI for adult home residents last year, the measure was vetoed by Governor Pataki.

More than 12,000 adult home residents, approximately one-third of New York State’s total adult home population, rely on SSI for their care. The inadequate rate of $28 per day is used to provide food, shelter, activities, personal care, case management, medication management and 24-hour supervision to adult home residents.

"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."

In May 2004, the New York State Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (NY AHSA) 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.