BELLAIRE The proposed state budget has nursing home and assisted living facilities across Ohio concerned about a potential $427 million in cuts to the industry and the possible job loss.
On Monday, Country Club Retirement Campus IV hosted a forum to talk about the state budget and what those cuts could mean, including limited access to care.
"We are trying to let people know about the impact of the proposed cuts," said Joe Zvosecz, administrator, Country Club Retirement Campus IV.
According to Zvosecz, one of the proposals is to have more skilled nursing facilities closed with "facility closer teams."
"The governor has in the budget, dollars set aside and they will come in to any home that is going to have financial difficulties because of these cuts and it will be their job to liquidate the home and transfer the patients out," Zvosecz said.
Attending was state Rep. Lou Gentile (D-95th) who was giving a tour of the facility and the opportunity to talk with some of the residents as well as the administration.
"It good to come here and see first hand what they provide the residents with and put a human face on these potential looming budget cuts," Gentile said. "I think it's important that legislators understand what the impacts could be in terms of quality of care."
Gentile also said that he is concerned the job loss will negatively impact the economy.
"These budget cuts could result in tough decisions having to be made about local jobs and in the long term, that is concerning to me," he said.
State wide, about 7,000 could be directly eliminated. Of Belmont County 1,073 skilled nursing facility jobs, 71 could be lost. Jefferson County could lose 40 and Harrison County 18.
"There are two concerns here. One for diminished care if there is a lack of resources and then what that does to a lot of the workforce who rely upon these jobs in my district and in the state," Gentile said. "The industry recognizes and is willing to make some compromises, but do these draconian cuts the short term fixes outweigh the long term consequences. There will be a loss of jobs and revenue to the state over a period of time and so I think we've got to be cautious so that we don't make drastic decisions today that will have a long term impact that is not sustainable."
Zvosecz said the skilled nursing industry has in the past made cuts and has proposed $119 million in cuts. He also said the industry has agreed to go to what he called "the price method."
That method would split the state into geographic regions and based on those regions, a skilled facility should be paid at a set price. The current proposed price method in the budget calls for that to be done, based on the prices of 2003 and to then cut the amount by 7 percent.
"The industry understands the need to make compromise, but what happens to our elderly is important and we aught to make sure that have good quality of care," Gentile said. "I think we've got to put a priority on our seniors and our elderly and making sure they have the best possible care is important."
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