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Nursing homes need systemic change

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As a recently retired nursing home administrator with 38 years of experience, I read with interest your editorial "Nursing home reform needed" [March 15]. Sadly, I have seen similar calls for reform come and go throughout the years. Invariably, I found any so-called reforms are usually superficial paperwork-type mandates that have no correlation to the quality of care and services. A big part of the problem is that nursing homes are almost totally reliant on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, and these rates have not kept pace with actual costs, much less the enhanced costs that would arise from increased staffing, education and requirements. Until entrenched politicians and industry advocates undertake the hard work of systemic change and improvements, I fear this will be another hollow, futile cry for real changes and improved standards of care.

Michael Tartaglia,

Franklin Square

One issue I believe was not sufficiently addressed in Newsday’s editorial "Nursing home reform needed" is the need for improved state oversight of current and future regulations. In 2017, I advised the commissioner’s office of the State Department of Health about my late wife’s nursing home’s noncompliance with state and federal law regarding spousal visitation rights and was told, incorrectly, that all state nursing homes were implementing state and federal law properly. As a husband of a patient, I was granted by 1987 federal laws the right to visit my wife any time, but her nursing home restricted my visitation to between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. I then contacted 10% of all nursing homes in all regions of the state. Of the 63 facilities I contacted, 39 had similar time restrictions on spousal visits, contrary to state and federal law. And yet, when I shared these results with state officials, they denied this to be the reality! No amount of new laws and regulations will have any impact on positive change if state officials do not closely supervise their enforcement and implementation.

Allan Vann,

Commack

It was good to see Newsday’s editorial on nursing homes, but I was disappointed it did not more thoughtfully speak to financing and quality issues, including the current effort for a direct-care ratio.

Richard J. Mollot,

Manhattan

Don’t give discounts to tax delinquents

Reader Eugene R. Dunn suggests a 50% discount for taxpayers owing money to the Internal Revenue Service or for student loans ["An idea better than a stimulus package?", Letters, March 16]. Say I took a loan to improve my house, or a car loan to buy a luxury car. Will I receive the same amnesty? Obviously not, nor should I. If a business owes the IRS back taxes, why should I subsidize that business, or a taxpaying couple who didn’t pay what they owed? I paid mine, now you pay yours. And I would have no problem if the IRS took the $1,400 off their tax bill and kept the check.

Joe Kennedy,

Syosset

We’re just retirees who want nice homes

Responding to reader Michael C. Lefkowitz: As a Country Pointe homeowner, we are not rich and these are not exceptionally expensive homes ["Huge tax bill should be no surprise," Letters, March 4]. Many people here are retired teachers on pensions. They sold their houses after 40 years to live in a nice retirement community. Nassau County decided to reassess all of the homes that had not recently been assessed, including new homes. It had to make up the difference in the budget for the homeowners who had five years to catch up with their newly increased taxes. We’re just people who worked hard all of our lives to live in a nice place in retirement.

Lori DeCostanzo,

Plainview

Fast bikers should be advised of etiquette

The recently opened shared-use corridor for pedestrians and bicycles, Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway, has been a long-anticipated addition to our community ["Coastal Greenway’s last leg finished months early," News, March 5]. On my first outing along the greenway, I encountered several different "styles" of bicycle riders. Some bikers chose to ride at very high speed in groups while pedestrians and other riders leisurely moved along the greenway. One group of high-speed riders approached from behind without any warning, moved into the opposite lane and passed extremely close. It was frightening. A few minutes later, two other high-speed riders approached, but they called out in advance that they were passing on the left. This advance notice made a huge difference. Rules for shared-use pathways should be posted before someone is seriously injured.

Mary J. Schneller,

West Islip

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