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Privatization of County Nursing Homes: What is the Debate Really About?

Author: ANNE G. ZAHRADNIK and HELISSE LEVINE
Published in PAQ, Vol. 41 No. 2

Severely constrained resources have pushed many New York State counties into a consideration of whether or not to sell their county- owned nursing home. The situation became more common during the recent recession, but some counties have been wrangling over the question for 10 years or more. Like so many struggles over limited public resources, the debates have been lengthy, convoluted, and vitriolic at times. The accusations, the aspersions, the dramatic grand standing, the flag-waving statements of appropriate rights and responsibilities, the highly skewed presentation of governance principles, and pointed referrals to intergenerational equity all showed, in sharp, local, detail the same tendencies as the ongoing national debate. Questions about our individual roles and responsibilities v. what role can, could, or should the government play are ever-present parts of the discussion. This natural experiment in discourse lent itself to a mixed methods content analysis of how the issues were being worked through in public platforms.

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