Residents of a local nursing home who get public assistance to pay for their care have received letters from the state informing them that those payments are being cut off at the end of the month and they should make arrangements to move.
The letters from the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services were received by residents at Cedar Wood Living Center, 235 N. Mich., late last week.
The letters said Medicaid payments would end Tuesday.
John Alquest, commissioner of medical services for SRS, said the letters were sent to 22 residents or guardians of residents at Cedar Wood who have been receiving Medicaid payments, although he said he thinks six or eight of the residents already may have moved.
Alquest said the letters were sent because Cedar Wood has been decertified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. He said federal rules governing payment of Medicaid require that the payments cease when a home is decertified.
MEDICAID is for people who cannot afford the cost of health care, including long-term nursing home care, and it is paid for by both the federal and state government.
Alquest also said the owners of Cedar Wood, Adventist Living Centers Inc. based in Chicago, were given 30 days beginning Sept. 10 to appeal the order shutting off Medicaid payments, but failed to do so.
A relative of one resident said giving residents a notice that public assistance is being cut only seven business days prior to the cutoff is unfair. The relative, who did not want to be identified, said the letters from SRS were received by Cedar Wood residents Friday.
The relative also said the situation has caused stress among residents of the home, especially among those who don't have family nearby to help them find another nursing home or prepare to move.
"I DON'T think it's right, the way they've handled this," she said. "Public accountability and information has been absolutely nil."
Cedar Wood, a non-profit nursing home, has been involved in negotiations with the department of health and environment since the department stripped the nursing home of its license in September.
The license foreclosure came after the nursing home failed three inspections, one in June, one in July and one in August, said Gerald Block, director of field services for KDHE.
Cedar Wood appealed the license revocation, and a prehearing date on that order has been set for Monday. Block also said negotiations between the nursing home and his department are continuing, although he said he does not think a negotiated settlement will be reached.
Mike Goebel, president of Adventist Living Centers Inc., said this morning that he was aware of the SRS order and blamed it on a "paper-work" foul up within his organization.
"WE'RE WORKING diligently trying to correct it," he said. "We sent a letter, but for some reason, it didn't get to the appropriate person. We appealed to (KDHE) on several issues, but we were caught off-guard on the Medicaid issue."
Alquest said the original letter informing Cedar Wood administrators that an appeal had to be made to SRS was sent Sept. 10. And he said the letter was very clear that an appeal had to be made to SRS within 30 days to keep Medicaid payments coming.
Alquest said he was not sure of the date a letter informing residents of the date funds would be cut off was sent.
Nancy Brooks, former administrator at Cedar Wood who now is a consultant for Adventist Living Centers, said about 20 of 30 residents at Cedar Wood received funding cut-off letters. She said administrators at the home did not know about the funding cut-off until families of residents told them Monday.
BROOKS SAID the home has lost some residents since the letter arrived.
"It would be a frightening thing to receive a letter like this in the mail," she said. "Even though it is going to be straightened out, I can understand how the families feel."
Since the 30-day period allowed for the appeal has passed, Alquest said Medicaid payments would be held up until Cedar Wood is recertified, which he agreed could take some time.
In Chicago, Goebel said conditions at Cedar Wood have been corrected and they intend to prove this in the KDHE hearings.
"We believe we've done our part to maintain good conditions," he said. "We've added staff, way above the state regulations."
Goebel also said the nursing home is up for sale, and a closing on the sale is expected very shortly.