County-owned and operated nursing homes across the country are struggling to stay open due to reduced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, reports TribLive, and many have been forced to privatize.
Pennsylvania, in particular, has seen a drastic decrease in the number of county-run nursing homes.
Across the state, counties that still own nursing homes are saying that declining medical assistance payments have cut into revenue, while costs, including pay and benefits for employees, continue to rise, requiring them to make tough choices on whether to cut back service or find new sources of money.
At one point, 50 counties operated nursing homes. Now, said Michael J. Wilt, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of County Affiliated Homes, 29 counties run a total of 33 nursing homes.
“It’s not just county nursing homes; most nursing homes are struggling. It’s simply because the state has failed to keep up the reimbursements with the expenses,” he said.
Some counties have decided the financial strain was just too much. Cambria County in 2010 sold its 370-bed nursing home in Ebensburg, Laurel Crest, to private company Grane HealthCare.
In the same year, Lackawanna and Carbon counties sold their facilities to private operators, saying the nursing homes carried too much debt for the counties.
Beaver County will put aside nearly $2.5 million from the general fund to help with any shortfalls, said Vince LaValle, Beaver County’s finance administrator.
“Because of the cuts from federal and state sources, when there are cuts in Medicaid reimbursements, we have to fund expenses that aren’t going down,” said Vince LaValle, Beaver County’s finance administrator.
A possible successful strategy could be the one pursued by Westmoreland Manor, a 500-bed nursing home that is county-owned but operated by a private company. Despite flat Medicare payment rates and decreased Medicaid reimbursements, says the article, the facility hasn’t run a deficit for more than 15 years.
Read the full piece at TribLive.
Written by Alyssa Gerace