Adult daycare centers are reporting serious shortcomings and delays, including unclear guidance from MLTC and low rates that fail to support essential programs and services. Despite moving to telehealthcare, many reimbursement rates pay under the minimum wage and prove unsustainable for the long-term. Desperate reforms are needed so adult social daycare centers can prevent rapid declines in health and well-being, which effect many New Yorkers’ elderly parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends.

Adult social daycare centers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been forced to shut their doors, let employees go, and seize vital services that adults in communities statewide depend on, since March 16, 2020. Despite these conditions, adult social daycare centers have received little, if any, guidance from state or federal authorities, and only received their first official clarification letter on April 7, 2020.

Managed long–term care (MLTC), a system of New York State’s Department of Health that is supposed to streamline the delivery of long–term services to people who are chronically ill or disabled and who wish to stay in their homes and communities, is failing itself and adult social daycare centers across New York State during this pandemic. Vital MLTC services, such as home care or adult daycare, are provided through managed long–term care plans that are approved by the New York State Department of Health, but the Department has not been following guidelines to the detriment of patients and New Yorkers.

Adult care centers are reporting serious shortcomings and delays, including unclear guidance from MLTC. Rates are being charged at half the regular price and unequally, with some adult care centers not being paid at all. Many rates for telecare services, now authorized and covered due to the pandemic, are paying under the minimum wage, making them unsustainable for the long-term and inadequate for meeting the needs of so many adults and care center employees. These new rates ignore long-standing contracts, and a continued failure to accept newly proposed and reduced rates is causing adult social daycare centers to lose clients, cutback vital programs, and not meet the needs of New Yorkers.

Additionally, many adult social daycare centers have been excluded from phased reopening plans, painting a dark reality that current closures and trends may persist for weeks and months to come. Across the state, social daycare centers and programs remain tied to the MLTCP, forced to operate against their rates, assessments, and reimbursements, which are hurting the industry and care many adults receive during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis at home.

They are continuously failing to meet the needs of adult social daycare centers and at-risk elderly adult populations. Every day, studies show that social care keeps people physically, emotionally, mentally active, improving short-term and long-term well-being, and preventing rapid health declines. But all daycare owners, firsthand, are seeing the rapid decline in the health of seniors they care for, including many New Yorkers’ elderly parents, grandparents, neighbors, and friends, when they are alone for extended periods. Understanding the importance of social interaction for improving well-being, adult social day care centers and programs should rightfully be deemed essential services and afforded the appropriate funding and reimbursement rates required to sustain the populations they serve.

“They need to do better,” remarked one adult social daycare center owner. “As quarantines continue, and the threat of a second wave of COVID-19 rises, we cannot sit idly by and watch the people we care for decline. It is unacceptable and irresponsible.”

While the pandemic forces people to retreat into their homes, adult social day care centers and programs are rightfully ready to fight back. As managed long–term care (MLTC),  a system of New York State’s Department of Health, continuously fails its most vulnerable, a new wave of response, policy, and guidance is needs for social adult care centers to prevail in doing what they do best – caring for our elderly and at-risk populations without consideration of socioeconomic status.

To learn more about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, please see the CDC’s resources on older adult needs during COVID-19. To take action and support New York’s at-risk populations dependent on adult social daycare centers and services, please consider calling, emailing, or writing your local legislator, partnering with a local social adult day care near you, or helping an elderly neighbor access essential telehealth services.