Kansas Department of Aging Paying “Bounty” to Decrease Nursing Home Census

The Kansas Department of Aging has embarked on a campaign to decrease the state’s nursing home census by moving eligible residents to less expensive, less institutional settings, but the local nursing home industry is upset by the tactics being used, reports the Kansas Health Institute.

After compiling a list of 800 nursing home residents that could possibly move into less-acute care settings, the KDoA has asked the state’s Area Agencies on Aging and Centers for Independent Living to have their case managers meet with each of the listed people to see if they’re able and willing to move, KHI says.

And for each Medicaid-funded nursing home resident that’s able to move out and stay out for at least 60 days, the KDoA has pledged to pay $2,000 to the case manager’s employer.

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But the notion of rewarding someone for helping people move out of nursing homes has upset the state’s nursing home lobby.

“It’s a bounty. There’s no other word for it,” said Cindy Luxem, executive director of the Kansas Health Care Association, which represents most of the state’s for-profit nursing homes. “If a nursing home paid a case manager a bonus for every resident they got to move there from another nursing home—that’s a felony,” Luxem said. “It’s illegal, but here we have the state paying bonuses to case managers who are essentially doing the same thing. They’re being rewarded for getting people to move out.”

She also said it seemed unfair that nursing homes aren’t paid $2,000 when their social workers help residents return home or move to community-based settings.

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“For us, this is just beyond belief,” Luxem said of the agency’s new policy.

The KDoA’s secretary, Shawn Sullivan, denies that it’s a bounty and says this is a “mischaracterization” of the payments, which haven’t yet been made because of the newness of the program.

Although Kansas has a disproportionately elderly population with a higher percentage of people in full-care nursing homes than almost any other state, Sullivan says this new policy won’t force anyone to move if they don’t want to, reports KHI. Instead, the effort is supposed to give those 800 residents and their families information about the services available to them in their homes and communities.

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Read more about the program and industry response here.

Written by Alyssa Gerace