September 28, 2011 —
It’s a well-known political axiom that seniors vote in greater numbers than other segments of the population. Perhaps that’s one reason that all 17 candidates who are running for election or re-election to the Sullivan County Legislature showed up at a meeting of the Senior Legislative Action Committee at the government center on September 23 to make remarks about issues facing seniors.
The topic receiving the most attention was the Sullivan County Adult Care Center, which in recent years has been losing money. In previous months, there had been discussions about the possible privatization of the facility with the result that, like many other counties, Sullivan would get out of the nursing home business.
But two months ago, the legislature decided instead to move in the direction of upgrading the center and attempting to attract more patients. Specifically, county officials will try to attract new customers for short-term rehabilitation of a couple of months, as well as those who would stay for several years.
None of the candidates expressed the view that privatization would be a good option, and nearly all of them said county officials had an obligation to study approaches that would result in the facility losing less money, or even making a profit.
The conversation also brought a couple of campaign flourishes. Cindy Geiger, who is a former public health nurse and is running in District Five, quoted the late U.S. vice president and presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey. She said, “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, our children, those who are in the twilight of life, our seniors, and those in the shadows of life, our sick and our disabled.”
Cora Edwards, who is running in District Six, said she had read the reports about the facility. She said, “What it all boils down to is this: do we believe in the role of good public healthcare; do we believe that the most vulnerable in our society should be taken care of when nobody else is taking care of them; do we believe that we don’t have to have our grandmothers and aunts and uncles in a facility where it’s very difficult for us to see them every day?”
Leni Binder, the incumbent legislator in District Seven, noted that many of the problems with the facility are related to the reality that unlike 48 other states, New York requires counties to pick up part of the cost of Medicaid, and most of the residents in the facility are paid for by Medicaid. She said, “I submit that your, and our, lobbying should be directed to the federal level.” She said residents should demand of the federal government that it limit the amount of money the state can keep out of the Medicaid funds it receives from Washington, DC.
She added, however, that the state shows no interest in saving the status quo.