Long Island, NY - February 26, 2015 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to quickly approve and release over $1 million in federal funds to the Visiting Nurse Association of Long Island, so that the organization can continue to operate. The Visiting Nurse Association of Long Island applied to New York State for $3.2 million in federal and state Medicaid funding via the Vital Access Provider (VAP) program, which helps safety net health care providers that are financially struggling. Specifically, the CMS funds would allow for a temporary increase in Medicaid funding. Thus far, the agency has only received half of the approved funding from New York State and needs the remaining federal portion to remain financially viable. The Visiting Nurse Association has been awaiting these funds for nearly a year. In a letter to CMS, Schumer urged the agency to work with New York State quickly to approve and release as close to $1.6 million as is deemed appropriate.
“The Visiting Nurse Association of Long Island provides invaluable services to hundreds of sick and needy Long Islanders, especially seniors, but they will be hard-pressed to continue this service if the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not release the funds for which they have already received approval from New York State,” said Senator Schumer. “The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services needs to quickly approve their VAP application and release the appropriate federal funds. It’s clear that the Visiting Nurse Association of Long Island needs this federal funding to survive and we should do everything possible to ensure they can provide professional and compassionate care to our sick and seniors for years to come.”
“Visiting Nurse Association of Long Island has been serving Long Islanders for over a century and these vital funds will ensure that the tradition of being one of the top healthcare providers in the country continues for many more years to come. On behalf of the association and its over 150 employees, we thank Senator Schumer for his efforts in securing these critically needed funds,” said Oreal M. Keenan, RN, MSN, Chief Executive Officer of Visiting Nurse Association of Long Island.
The Visiting Nurse Association of Long Island is a federally and state certified home health agency and a federally and state certified Long Term Home Health Care Program. The organization provides valuable health and community-based services to the region. Specifically, the Visiting Nurse Association of Long Island has been serving Long Island residents for over 100 years and has been recognized as one of the top 500 healthcare providers in the country. The agency serves 450 to 500 patients per week and provides ‘meals on wheels’ to 460 clients daily.
In order to sustain future services, the Visiting Nurse Association has been working closely with CMS and community partners on a two-pronged plan for the future. The plan involves programmatic and fiscal solutions that are urgently dependent on federal Vital Access Provider funds. Specifically, the Visiting Nurse Association plans to merge with another home care agency, the Dominican Sisters Family Health Services; New York State has already approved this plan. Schumer said that this merger will help further ensure continuity and sustainability.
The Visiting Nurses Association of Long Island applied for funding through New York State for Vital Access Provider funds, which supplements Medicaid funds and helps healthcare facilities in dire financial straits stay open to the public. The homecare agency applied for and the state was approved for a two-year award cycle of funds. Overall, the homecare agency was initially approved for $3.2 million. In August, New York State released $1.6 million of these funds. CMS has not yet approved the application or released the remaining funds and has requested additional documentation to justify the need for an additional $1.6 million. Schumer today said that, because the application was already approved by CMS, the Visiting Nurse Association has expended its own reserves to implement state-backed agency initiatives and contingencies necessary for VAP qualification.
Schumer today urged CMS to approve and provide funds to the Visiting Nurses Association of Long Island. Schumer explained that this urgently needed funding supplements Medicaid funds, which will help the organization continue to provide vital health care services. Schumer said that, because New York State plans to provide documentation to justify the need for this funding, CMS should work closely with New York State so the money is released as quickly as possible.