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Report: Fort Hudson Health System contributes $32M per year to economy

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FORT EDWARD -- A new report on the economic impact of long-term senior care facilities in New York hopes to highlight their contribution in the face of Medicaid changes and declining reimbursement rates.

The report, compiled by industry group LeadingAge New York, found senior living and service providers statewide pump $29 billion annually into the economy. The document came a week before Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2012 state budget presentation, slated for Tuesday.

Funding for nursing homes, and health care in general, typically is a contentious topic in the state budget process. In addition, a state task force has been evaluating ways to redesign the Medicaid system to reduce costs.

The report examines the industry's impact across the state and spotlights 18 providers, including Fort Hudson Health System in Fort Edward. The local nonprofit's economic impact is estimated at $32 million annually.

Fort Hudson provides short-term rehabilitation, respite, medical, home care, senior housing, adult day care, nursing home and memory care services. It employs 380.

According to LeadingAge New York President James Clyne Jr., the report illustrates the impact of providers like Fort Hudson, which he hopes lawmakers will take into consideration as they consider the state budget.

"Nonprofits are well known for the quality of the care they provide," Clyne said, "But legislators and policymakers often overlook the economic impact that long-term care providers have on the local economy."

The report shows a $1.4 billion economic impact in the Capital Region, with more than 11,600 jobs. A 5 percent cut to Medicaid could result in $30 million of lost economic activity, according to the report.

Fort Hudson CEO Andrew Cruikshank said he wasn't surprised to learn Fort Hudson generates $32 million for the regional economy, given its large employment base.

"When you have 400 employees, that's a lot of individuals who rely on us, and they, in turn, are supporting other local businesses," he said.

In recent years, Fort Hudson has added 100 jobs by expanding into home care services; it also added a second adult day care program to meet demand.

But such expansions are challenging as revenue is squeezed, Cruikshank said. Fort Hudson's Medicaid reimbursement rates have been flat for years, while Medicare was reduced 11 percent as of October.

Cruikshank added that the state's traditional approach to controlling Medicare and Medicaid costs has been to cut payments. Meanwhile, providers are seeing more patients, and their own costs to provide services are rising, forcing job cuts and even some facility closures.

"You can continually peel the apple, but at some point in time, you reach the core," Cruikshank said.

LeadingAge New York represents not-for-profit providers of senior housing, nursing homes, adult care, retirement communities, assisted living and home care.

Its economic impact figures look at the direct impact of wages and other spending and then factors in the ripple effect of those dollars in the community.

The multiplier used was calculated by the Regional Product Division of the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

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