Christine Stuart photo

It’s been more than a month since Gov. M. Jodi Rell unveiled her budget proposal, but nursing home and health care workers wanted to let her to know Wednesday that they weren’t happy with a zero percent increase in funding.

At a rally on the north steps of the state Capitol workers said a zero percent increase in funding is actually a cut in funding because the cost of fuel, health insurance, and utilities continue to go up.

Christine Stuart photo

Toni Fatone, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, said since the beginning of 2009 four nursing homes have closed and without an increase in funding many more will follow.

She said Rell’s budget is devastating for nursing home providers.

There are 30,000 nursing home workers in the state and for every bed lost when a nursing home closes its doors, one person loses their home and another person loses their job, she said.

Rell’s Budget Secretary Robert Genuario said “the fact that the governor gave them the same amount as last year should show the high importance she places on this line item.”

“This is all our taxpayers can afford at this time,” Genuario said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Carmen Boudier, president of the New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199 SEIU, said a “0 percent budget can not take care of people in nursing homes.”

Deborah Chernoff of District 1199 SEIU said for years the homes have been asked to beef up care without being given the resources they need to do it.

Barry Slotnick, the nursing home administrator at Harrington Court in Colchester, said he knows how compassionate and dedicated his staff is from the nurses to the janitors. But he said they’re also 175 citizens who buy locally and pay their taxes.

For the $1.2 billion in Medicaid dollars the state spends on nursing homes those same homes support an estimated $7.8 billion of estimated economic activity, Fatone said. 

“What the governor and the legislature don’t seem to realize is that supporting services is not only the right thing to do, it’s the necessary thing for our economy,” Boudier said.

There were no lawmakers in attendance at the rally just two mayors: Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.

Earlier this week, the Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee put forth a budget scenario which cut nursing home funds by 10 percent. Democratic leaders said they did not endorse the cuts, but that doesn’t make Fatone feel any better about what cuts may be on the horizon.

Fatone, who is leaving her post at the end of the month, predicted that there would be a reduction in nursing home funds before lawmakers pass a budget this summer.