By CATHY SNYDER
The issue of the County Home continues to be a powder keg topic that has brought about more negative discussion. After all is said and done, the legislature needs to be accountable for what happens to those taxpayers who will not be served if we are sold.
It’s Super Bowl week at the County Home.
Will either allow our county to continue to provide care and oversight to our most vulnerable residents, or they could place our home into the hands of a company with a history of poor care that has no loyalty to our county residents.
They can turn a deaf ear and a blind eye when they are confronted with accounts of health-related hardships faced by taxpaying constituents or their family members. Instead of being willing and able to help by referring to the County Home, it will be easier to walk away and blame their situation on the will of other constituents, state mandates, laziness, not investing for the future, or failure to buy long term care insurance.
They will either choose to keep valued employees or they will decide that these specific county employees are somehow less deserving than possibly themselves or other employees whose paycheck, benefits, and standard of living depend on tax dollars.
They can forget that the profits - much of it your tax money - gleaned by investor owned corporations will leave our county instead of being fully recycled into the local economy; and that any taxes paid by this company would pale in comparison to the collective spending of employees to local businesses and the tax base.
They can argue that they would vote to sell for the benefit of the county taxpayers. They can easily convince themselves of that when they aren't the taxpayers needing placement. It's also easy when they have no first hand knowledge or experience in caring for the people that are living in the County Home.
They can ignore the statistics, studies and reports that demonstrate how privatization of the health-care system has made the consumer a commodity; has driven costs higher while few reap huge profits; has made quality healthcare less accessible and less affordable to many more (forcing more to use Medicaid); has decreased quality of care for those without unlimited resources; and has decreased employee benefits with the resulting usage of government sponsored programs.
They can condone and support divisive, short-sighted remarks made by the Chamber of Commerce and the resulting successful division of the north and south county; instead of including everyone (including the Chamber) in finding solutions that would benefit people on both sides of the issue.
They can dispute, disregard, and reject: studies, recommendations and solutions for the Home that would increase financial integrity and efficiencies for continued service to county taxpayers; while bloated spending continues in the rest of the county and the state.
They can disagree that selling our county nursing homes across the state is not going to make our local or state fiscal problems go away; and how these sales are part of the political swindling that is changing the humanity and the socioeconomic landscape of our state and soon, our country.
They can justify their position to sell with all the false indignation they can muster. But the truth is, their reasoning falls short; and some of them think they will never be in the position of any of the people who will need the County Home. How very lucky for them.
They can join forces with others in doing everything they can to criticize, discredit, and threaten a group of legislators that would vote "no sale;" that have the capacity and conviction to challenge, investigate, tackle serious problems, ask difficult questions and consider the future.
We can thank God for this group of upstanding, outstanding legislators. They represent how government should function. They are the voice of reason and are truly committed to the well being of all our county residents. They are to be commended for their courage , their values, and their insight. They deserve our respect and gratitude, not the contempt being shoved down our throats.
The other legislators can continue to follow the choices outlined above. Some others may yet weaken and succumb to overwhelming political pressure and threats. If these are the things that define and foster good representation, then I guess you could say they've done their job well (or as well as they could). How sad for all of us.
Cathy Snyder is a Dunkirk resident and County Home employee.