Assisted living group says increasing costs threaten seniors

PRESS RELEASE ESAAL

A number of New York’s adult care facilities (ACFs), commonly known as assisted living residences, may face closure if the state fails to authorize an increase in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) rate, a state advocacy group claims.

Up to 12,000 seniors can face an uncertain future if the SSI does not see an increase this year, The Empire State Association of Assisted Living (ESAAL) claims in a recent press briefing titled, “Facts About New York State’s 10-Year SSI Rate Freeze.” It details how New York’s licensed ACFs are struggling with the rising costs of caring for the rapidly growing elderly population.

“The state has not increased the SSI Rate in 10 years,” said Lisa Newcomb, executive director of ESAAL. “Yet the cost to operate a licensed ACF continues to increase at an alarming rate. As a result of financial losses, many of these homes have closed or face closure. Twenty-four SSI facilities have closed over the last several years, forcing low-income seniors to search for other care options. The fact is, the cost of caring for an SSI resident is estimated to approach $70 per day, but reimbursement if far below it. Adult Care Facilities are a community based option that is a financial bargain for the state.”

ESAAL says approximately 12,000 aging New Yorkers depend on SSI. And while the SSI rate has remained frozen at a mere $41 per day, per person, costs for ACFs have skyrocketed. For example, since 2007, on average:

–  Health insurance premiums for assisted living staff have has increased 51 percent;

–  The minimum wage has increased 54 percent; and

–  Food costs have outpaced inflation by 60 percent.

“The assisted living industry has been hit hard by rising costs, particularly with wages, health care costs for staff, worker’s compensation rates, and the price of food and other necessities,” said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, member of the Assembly’s Committee on Aging. “Facilities that are home to seniors supported by SSI can no longer sustain these operating losses. Oneida County is home to approximately 170 seniors who depend on SSI.”

The only alternative living option for an SSI recipient needing assisted living services is to be placed in a nursing home, regardless of whether they need more care. For every displaced SSI resident who ends up in a nursing home, the daily cost of housing and care for the state increases dramatically from $41 per day to approximately $150 to $250 or even more per day.

“Increasing the SSI rate is imperative as the assisted living industry for low income seniors is in crisis. Our seniors need assisted living now more than ever,” said Newcomb.