The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility will run out of money by Sept. 30 and will need a cash infusion from a budget already riddled with shortfalls to keep running for the rest of the year, a legislative budget analyst told lawmakers Friday.
Craig Freas, the analyst who reviews nursing homes, told the Foley oversight committee of the Suffolk County Legislature that not only will the legislature need to approve a budget amendment, but whatever amendment surfaces will also have to offer offsetting cuts or revenues from elsewhere in the budget to pay for continued operations.
Dr. James Tomarken, health commissioner, agreed that extra money is needed, and the Bellone administration is aware of the problem. But he said he could not say what the administration plans to do.
Legis. John Kennedy (R-Nesconset), the minority leader, said he will file a budget amendment that can be acted on next month to keep the county-owned nursing home afloat.
Later, Jon Schneider, deputy county executive, said $2.1 million is needed until the end of the year to keep the nursing home running. But the administration will not propose an amendment and will allow the nursing home to "run a deficit in the account" through year's end because there are no potential offsets in this year's operating budget.
He said the shortfall would then be made up as part of the 2013 budget, which will be unveiled next month. "This demonstrates why we have to get out of the nursing home business," Schneider said, noting that Foley's deficit for the entire year is $14 million.
The disclosure comes even as lawmakers are weighing a proposed $23 million sale of the 264-bed complex in Yaphank, a deal County Executive Steve Bellone hopes to complete by year's end. But the proposed sale needs approval of the county legislature, and some lawmakers have already expressed opposition.
Kennedy, who opposes a Foley sale, said the nursing home is still viable if the county takes steps to market the complex, bolster reimbursements and make changes, such as specializing in pediatric nursing care. He also said he would like to see the county revive talks with Easter Seals, which had an interest in becoming involved with Foley, and working with the new county union leaders to revise the contract for nursing home workers.