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Legislator says Kent’s assertions are disservice to public

Posted 1 August 2013 at 12:00 am

Editor:

This is a response to Gary Kent’s letter regarding “inconvenient truths,” which all happen to be inconveniently (for Gary) false.  (Click here to see Kent’s letter.)

It has not been unusual for Gary to make false assertions in his letters to the editor throughout the public discourse relative to the nursing home.  However, some of the items on this list are so blatantly false and the items on it are referred to as “truth” it calls for a response.

Mr. Kent states: County retirement contributions are due to fall in March 2014.

This is false.  Retirement contributions for 2014 as projected by the New York State Division of Budget (note: not a county consultant) are going up once again in 2014.  At one point Mr. Kent went so far as to state that the retirement contributions would return to pre-recession levels in 2014.  The New York State Comptroller’s Office (note: also not a county consultant) now uses long-term actuarial projections that are higher than pre-recession contribution levels meaning the employer contributions may in fact never reach pre-recession levels.

Mr. Kent states: County employee health insurance should be less burdensome under the Affordable Care Act.

This is false.  In fact the IRS (note: not a county consultant) just decided to delay implementation of some aspects of the Affordable Care Act due to the complexity of compliance and reporting requirements for businesses with more than 50 employees, which includes the county.  If Mr. Kent is claiming that health insurance will cost the county less, this also appears to be false. Just the new fees required by the Affordable Care Act will cost county taxpayers in the neighborhood of $150,000 in 2014.

Mr. Kent states: Making a “business” decision to upgrade the old “A” and “B” wings could improve our bottom line.

This is so vague that it is difficult to even respond.  What we do know is that to make marketable rental space that will be able to compete with private sector space already available will likely require a seven-figure investment.  Are you suggesting that the county should invest millions in taxpayer dollars upgrading the empty space for rental, speculating that it will generate enough revenue to not only cover the investment but also significantly change the financial outlook for the home?  It’s risky to assume that any revenue generated will cover the investment let alone have a significant impact on the bottom line of the nursing home.

Mr. Kent states: County consultants have told our leaders that Medicare reimbursement should be stable for the next four years.

This was actually true at one time, but is now extremely outdated.  Mr. Kent is quoting a study that predates final rate rebasing and the Affordable Care Act’s $716 Billion in cuts to the Medicare program.

The 2013 report by the Medicare Trust Fund Board of Trustees (note: not a county consultant) issued in May of this year states: “the “Affordable Care Act” or ACA, contains roughly 165 provisions affecting the Medicare program by reducing costs

The Board assumes that the various cost-reduction measuresthe most important of which are the reductions in the annual payment rate updates for most categories of Medicare providers will occur as the Affordable Care Act requires.”

This would include Nursing Homes.

I don’t believe that Mr. Kent is intentionally misleading you.  I just believe that he doesn’t have a firm grasp on the facts.

Mr. Kent, please stop representing your theories as facts.  It’s okay to disagree.  It’s okay to voice your opinion.  However, portraying yourself as a subject matter expert when you are clearly not very well informed does the community a disservice.  It does those that trust you a disservice.  The real inconvenient truth is that if you don’t like the reality of a situation, making up an alternative is not an option.

Lynne Johnson,
Orleans County legislator, District 2