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Nursing care workers protest threat to Medicaid funding

Nursing assistant Rosianie Cadet, front, was among hundreds

Nursing assistant Rosianie Cadet, front, was among hundreds of employees of the Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Commack, who lined up to sign petitions on Thursday, June 22, 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

On the day Senate Republicans unveiled their health care bill, workers at a Long Island nursing home rallied against recent proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which also threaten billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid.

Employees at Gurwin Jewish Nursing Center in Commack Thursday signed petitions urging local congressional representatives, including Rep. Lee Zeldin and Rep. Peter King, to reconsider their stance on such measures. Both supported the House health care bill known as the American Health Care Act.

With two-thirds of nursing home residents nationwide receiving Medicaid assistance, such significant cuts to the program will harm seniors and their quality of nursing care, officials at the Gurwin Jewish Nursing Center said.

“It puts our residents at risk,” said Stuart Almer, administrator of the Gurwin Jewish Nursing Center. “Any provider or vendor who is reliant on the Medicaid program is equally at risk.”

The effort by Gurwin is part of a nationwide push by the Continuing Care Leadership Coalition (CCLC) and other health care organizations against the Republican health care bills.

“The cuts to Medicaid, in both the House and the Senate bill, are aimed straight at the heart of care for seniors and people with disabilities,” said Scott Amrhein, CCLC president, adding that CCLC is working with organizations like AARP.

Zeldin, who supports the current draft of the Senate health care bill, said in a statement the bill would help Americans access health care in new ways “by increasing competition in the marketplace and offering plans that will be tailored to individual needs.”

“Passage of this bill is an important step in a multi-pronged effort to improve health care in our country,” he said.

Rep. Peter King will be monitoring the changes to the draft in the coming weeks, specifically regarding Medicaid and pre-existing conditions, said chief of staff Kevin Fogarty.

Nursing home staff and industry experts say the overall quality of care, the size of nursing home staff, and the number of new residents that they can accept would sharply decline as a result of major Medicaid cuts.

“You vote whichever way you vote, but until you actually see the perspective from a person who lays in that bed, you really don’t know,” said Randi Marquis, assistant director of nursing at Gurwin.

More than 85 percent of long-term residents at Gurwin receive Medicaid assistance, including Adele Danon, who was honored by Zeldin in April for her service in the Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II.

“I’m very disappointed that anybody should vote for something that’s representing their constituents without a voice,” Danon said. “Who’s asking us what we want, or where we’re going to go, or what’s going to happen to us?”

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