As the discussion over providing health care programs, and long-term care for low-income seniors, moves forward in the North Country, concerns are being raised over the way those conversations are taking place.
Even some supporters of the move to privatize Horace Nye nursing home in Elizabethtown were bothered by the lack of a public hearing to take comments on the plan. (Sale of the home passed on a 12-6 vote on Tuesday.)
Meanwhile, North Elba town suprvisor Roby Politi says he wasn’t briefed about a plan by the non-profit company Adirondack Health to downsize by 50% the number of nursing home beds in Lake Placid.
“We will certainly continue to monitor via the [NYS] Department of Health what they’re planning on doing and hopefully we’ll be part of the discussion,” Politi said yesterday.
(Adirondack Health spokesman Joe Riccio says talks with local leaders will take place as the planning process moves forward.)
Now the Glens Falls Post Star’s Jon Alexander is reporting on the “unusual level of secrecy” that has surrounded talks over public health programs in Washington County, where local leaders want to privatize most public health services.
The secrecy surrounding the negotiations over privatization of most of Washington County’s Public Health Department continued Thursday through hours of closed-door chatter that resulted in no resolutions.
The county Board of Supervisors Finance Committee spent about three hours in a closed-door meeting, debating a proposal from Fort Hudson Health Systems to buy the county’s home health care, hospice and long-term care programs, which make up the lion’s share of the Public Health Department.
Obviously, the counties and non-profits that provide these services are under severe budget pressure to make changes quickly, in large part due to lagging Medicaid reimbursements from Albany.
And I don’t doubt that everyone is working in good faith to make this transition work.
But I wonder whether this process — secretive in some cases, balkanized in others, and sometimes simply rushed — has allowed the various players in the public healthcare system to coordinate the way these crucial services will be provided, within counties and across the region.
As more of these services are privatized, are there plans in place for what happens when companies stop taking some low-income patients (as more and more health care providers are doing), or when firms go out of business, or choose to leave our area?
What happens if one nursing home or home health program shuts down, or downsizes? How does that affect neighboring programs?
These aren’t abstract questions. These are the questions that families will be facing in the months ahead, as health care systems that have been run by their local governments for decades begin to change rapidly.
It strikes me as odd that we debate and review some things for years — say, the proposed resort in Tupper Lake — while other things, such as the healthcare provided to thousands of our residents can change so rapidly with so little public discussion.
As always, your comments welcome.