By Mid-Hudson News Network February 22, 2012
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, left, speaks at Tuesday’s Pattern for Progress event as Orange County Executive Edward Diana, center, and Ulster County Executive Michael Hein look on. (Photo by Daniel Torres)
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — The county executives from Ulster, Dutchess and Orange discussed the concept of regionalism on Tuesday before a packed house of public officials, policy makers and business and community leaders.
The setting was Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress’ annual Presidents Day Breakfast in Poughkeepsie.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Orange County Executive Edward Diana and Ulster County Executive Michael Hein discussed several issues that mutually affect respective counties.
Getting out of the county nursing home business and regionalizing county jails were among the event’s central issues.
“Certainly the key phrases of ‘regionalism, shared services, consolidation, dissolution coordination, collaboration’ now are more than just words,” Molinaro said.
Government at all levels is being “stressed and overwhelmed by the complexities are perhaps a new normal,” he said. “It’s up to us in this state to confront what is a government structure that all too often is antiquated and outmoded.”
The three executives agreed unfunded state mandates, such as Medicaid costs, desperately need to be reformed. Diana paraphrased Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying: “Until the state can print money, they will not take over Medicaid. The state’s simply broke.”
“We can collectively work together,” Hein said. “That’s why this regionalism concept works. This is one of those issues where you’re going to run out of money — so if we’re going to fix it, everybody has to come together.”
County-owned nursing homes have, in particular, become albatrosses around counties’ necks, the officials said.
As such, Ulster County has created a Local Development Corp. to run the Golden Hill Health Care Center and ultimately sell it; and Orange County will defund its Valley View Nursing Home on July 1 in hopes of finding a private operator to buy it.
Dutchess County closed its nursing home more than a decade ago.
“We all realize that this is a business that government should be out of,” Diana said.
“If we’re going to deal with tough issues, then we’re going to have to step forward and find creative ways,” Hein said.
Molinaro, whose county has been plagued by jail overcrowding for years, discussed the expansion of such facilities.
“We’re engaged in a review of the criminal justice system (to) understand the very systemic problems,” he said. “This is an area where state government … is antiquated and outmoded. There’s been no real shift in allowing regional access to jail expansion. It’s a burden, but we want our communities safe.”
Diana sympathized, noting the difficulty of building a new jail when hamstrung by costly state requirements.
“The state has to get on board with us,” he said.
Hein said Ulster County’s new Law Enforcement Center has extra jail capacity that Dutchess County can use and that Ulster’s old jail could be put back online with minimal cost.
“We have one heck of a bargain,” Hein offered. “We stand ready, willing and able” if the state would allow such an arrangement.
By Michael Randall Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM – 02/22/12
POUGHKEEPSIE — Ask the Orange, Ulster and Dutchess county executives what they want most to fix and the answer was unanimous Tuesday — Medicaid.
County executives Ed Diana of Orange, Mike Hein of Ulster and Marcus Molinaro of Dutchess made their pitches during a discussion of how government can save money through collaboration or other reforms. The discussion was part of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress’ annual Presidents’ Day breakfast at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel.
Hein said Medicaid is a clear example of the state dumping an expense on localities. Counties in New York pay a total of $7 billion toward Medicaid costs, but have no control regarding what still is a state program, he said.
Here are some other steps mentioned by area county executives at the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress breakfast that they’ve taken, or say should be taken, to spur growth or cut local government expenses:
• Orange County is taking on an increasing responsibility to dispatch emergency services as towns and villages seek to cut costs.
• Ulster County’s tourism office put increased focus on New York City metro-area tourists, who don’t tend to see county or municipal boundaries up here.
• Dutchess County formed a cabinet of staff and offices whose work touches on economic development, to smooth the way for growth.
• Orange’s business incubator has 19 start-ups and a waiting list, and graduated its first tenant, Continental Organics.
• Executives suggest counties should take on some or all assessment responsibilities.
Diana concurred, but was skeptical about seeing any action in Albany during an election year because counties can’t wait too long. Medicaid reform, along with pension reform, must happen, Diana said, “or you will bankrupt every county in the state.”
Molinaro, a Republican who previously served in the state Assembly, predicted that body’s Democratic majority will be the most difficult to get on board with Medicaid reform.
Diana and Hein got a chance to again defend their respective moves to privatize their counties’ nursing homes. Diana cited Dutchess, which got out of the nursing-home business several years ago, as a successful precedent for his county’s course of action.
Diana, who only funded Valley View nursing home for half a year in Orange County’s 2012 budget, said he never wanted to close the facility. Yet, he said it’s because he took the initiative that a process to seek proposals from potential operators is under way.
Hein pushed for a local development corporation to sell the Golden Hill nursing home. He said it makes sense — there are others besides government who are better able to provide care. Then he added, that money can “go back to taxpayers.
By: Dan Wells 02/13/2012 09:55 PM
MAYVILLE, N.Y. — Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards has released guidelines that a potential buyer must meet in order to be considered to purchase the county home.
The home is projected to lose almost $4 million next year, so the county is looking into selling the skilled nursing facility. The possible sale has union members and county residents concerned.
In order to address those concerns, Edwards developed a list of terms and conditions that a potential buyer must agree to. The list maintains many current aspects of who the home serves and how it is operated.
But, some of the questions about the buyers’ intentions, raise concern from union leaders.
“How do you continue to do what’s going on and still make a profit? And if you’re a private company, that’s what you’re in the business for. It really is a business. It’s not like many other government agencies, we have a responsibility to the public. A private entity doesn’t have a responsibility to the public, they have a bottom line,” said Rose Conti, president of CSEA Unit 6300.
There is also a non-biased study being conducted by a private company and an ad-hoc committee has been formed to look for cost saving solutions to keep the county as the operator of the home.
The county legislature must vote on any changes to the home.
Monday Morning Memo – Office of the County Executive
Monday, February 13, 2012
County Home RFP Addresses Residents’ Concerns
I have received numerous letters and heard many concerns from CSEA union members and County residents about the potential sale, lease or other disposition of the Chautauqua County Home.
In the first week of February, Marcus & Millichap, the Chicago-based marketing firm that was approved by the County Legislature to market the sale, lease or other disposition of the County Home, released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Sale of the Chautauqua County Home and now is collecting proposals until April 16, 2012. I am glad to say that I, along with other County Officials, have worked with Marcus & Millichap to create an RFP that addresses the many concerns expressed by CSEA President Rose Conti and others about the uncertainties associated with privatizing the County Home. Below is a chart of some of the common concerns I have received from residents and how these concerns are addressed as a term and condition for proposers:
Ways Residents’ Concerns will be Addressed in the Potential Sale of the County Home:
Concern Expressed by County Residents:
I may need to use the County Home someday and I want to know it will still be there.
RFP Term & Condition that Addresses This Concern:
Term & Condition #1- Only proposals that include the continued operation of the Chautauqua County Home as a skilled nursing facility for a period of ten (10) years will be considered.
What will happen to current County Home Employees?
RFP Term & Condition:
Term & Condition #2- Current union employees only shall be guaranteed offers of employment provided they file an application and pass a background check.
The well-paying, benefits-included union jobs at the County Home will be lost.
RFP Term & Condition:
Term & Condition #3- The proposer must include what protections or preferences, if any, would be provided with regard to the jobs, salary levels and benefits for current employees in various positions, and for what periods of time.
Privatizing the County Home will lead to insufficient care of its patients.
RFP Term & Condition:
Term & Condition #4- The proposer must include what their experience is and what they will offer to Chautauqua County concerning issues such as staff training, relationship with family members, resident activities, and enhancing resident and facility quality of life.
County Residents may no longer be admitted to the Home if it is privatized.
RFP Term & Condition:
Term & Condition # 5- Preference to admission shall first be given to Chautauqua County residents. The winning proposer will guarantee to meet or exceed an 80% threshold of residents who are from Chautauqua County.
What will happen to the 80% of people at the County Home that rely on Medicaid?
RFP Term & Condition:
Term & Condition #8- Current residents at the Chautauqua County Home shall have the right to remain in the facility as long as they wish.
The County won’t have any control over what happens to the Home if it is sold.
RFP Term & Condition:
Term & Conditions #1-13 give the County a say in how the County Home can be run in the future.
In addition, Chautauqua County will also reserve the right to reject all proposals and reissue a request for proposals if none of the proposals are in the County’s best interest.
I look forward to continuing my work and actively representing residents and taxpayers of Chautauqua County by finding a proposal that suits the needs of our County and the current employees and residents of the Chautauqua County Home.
BALLSTON SPA — It will likely be another five to seven months at least before Saratoga County supervisors determine the future of the county-owned Maplewood Manor nursing home.
Hadley Supervisor Mo Wright, who chairs the county’s Public Health Committee, said supervisors are looking to hire a consultant to help them identify ways to deal with rising costs and shortfalls in Medicaid revenue at the facility, which is projected to lose $9.5 million this year. Bids for the consulting job will go out by the end of the week, Wright said.
Supervisors hope to hire a consultant by mid-March to begin preparing a report. But a report typically takes between four to six months to prepare, Wright said, meaning it’ll be summer before supervisors see the results.
The supervisors will then need to review the options outlined in the report and decide how to proceed. It could be another 18 to 24 months before a final decision is reached, Wright said.
“This is a huge decision,” said Edinburg Supervisor Jean Raymond, a 25-year veteran of the board of supervisors. “Probably the biggest I’ve ever made as a supervisor.”
The oft-lamented facility has received $35 million in county subsidies since 2004 because Medicaid payments, Maplewood Manor’s largest source of revenue, don’t come close to covering the facility’s payroll and supply costs. As they struggled last year to balance their most difficult budget in recent memory, which included the county’s first property tax increase since 2003, multiple supervisors said something needed to be done to address Maplewood Manor’s finances.
“If there’s any way for us to save money between now and when the decision is made,” Wright said, “we’ll do it.”
A subcommittee consisting of supervisors and county officials was formed at the start of the year and they’ve spent 2012 researching what other counties have done with their nursing homes. Some have elected to stay in the nursing home business, Wright said, while others have decided to get out.
The consultant will help Saratoga County determine where it falls on that spectrum.
Possible options for Saratoga County include selling or leasing the facility, Wright said, though he noted it could eventually elect to maintain the status quo. The consultant will provide supervisors with definitive costs associated with each measure while also outlining other cost-cutting options. Continued…