For public nursing homes in eight counties across the state — including the 174-bed Otsego Manor just south of Cooperstown — 2013 could end as the last full year they were in pubic hands. All are taking steps toward privatization.
On May 1, the Otsego County Board of Representatives overwhelmingly agreed to set up a local development corporation to handle the sale of the Manor. The move came after deficits began to pile up to the point where county Treasurer Dan Crowell declared the county could no longer afford to operate it.
“We cannot financially support this anymore,” county Rep. Catherine Rothenberger, D-Oneonta, said at the May meeting. “We built a Cadillac.”
Among the reasons cited for the growing gap that needed to be filled each year to run the Manor were escalating employee pension and health care insurance premiums as well as a decline in the reimbursement rates for patients eligible for Medicaid or Medicare benefits.
This month, the local development corporation, after getting eight bids on the Manor, narrowed the list of suitors to two. A decision is expected to be made in late January.
In November, after a major lobbying blitz by the gaming industry in Albany and an aggressive effort by Cuomo, New York voters agreed to amend the state Constitution by permitting up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos, four of which would be opened in the first seven years.
The ballot proposition was favored by 57 percent of voters, though it was turned down by a majority in Otsego County. Voters in Schoharie and Delaware counties favored it.
Four gaming companies are set to compete for licenses that will be awarded in the Catskills region — Empire Resorts Inc., Foxwoods Resort Casino, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and the owners of the Nevele, a hotel in the Ulster County community of Ellenville that closed in 2009 and would re-open there if it is awarded the casino license.