Archive for Monday, April 19, 2010

Proposed legislation splits Kansas nursing home industry

April 19, 2010, 9:22 a.m. Updated April 19, 2010, 11:17 a.m.


— Operators of nursing homes and assisted living centers in Kansas are deeply divided over a proposal to charge a fee for every bed in their facilities in an effort to attract more federal money.

A bill awaiting legislative action would assess a $1,325 fee per bed in nursing facilities. It would collect an estimated $27 million from nursing facilities, which could be matched by about $62 million in federal dollars.

Supporters say the extra funds would help a system struggling with deep budget cuts, while opponents argue that lawmakers would likely use the money for other purposes to help fill a serious budget gap.

Phyllis Kelly, executive director of the Kansas Adult Care Executives association, said nursing home administrators and assisted living operators generally are united on most issues. But this proposal is so divisive that her organization is not taking a position on it.

“We usually as an industry are very together on the issues related to long-term care, our seniors and our elderly,” Kelly said. “This is one that we definitely have different opinions about.”

Debra Zehr, president and chief executive officer of the Kansas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, which represents not-for-profit facilities, said she’s been told that lawmakers in other states have used the revenue for other budget purposes.

But Cindy Luxem, CEO of the Kansas Health Care Association, said she doesn’t understand the opposition to the bill.

“I am shocked at the fact that the people that oppose this have scared senior citizens into thinking this is something they will have to pay themselves,” said Luxem, whose organization represents both not-for-profit and for-profit facilities. “There is this dirty secret, the issue about private pay, this is not a new issue for this profession.”

Because nursing facilities operate with tight limits on Medicaid reimbursement, Luxem said, private-pay residents often pay a larger piece of the overall bill. She said the new tax would help reduce that burden by bringing new money into the system.

“We’ve had a secret or a silent granny tax for years,” Luxem said. “That’s what providers do. They make the private pay people make up for those deficiencies.”

Zehr said pressure to implement the fees and use the revenue for other purposes increases during difficult budget times. In fact, she said the House Appropriations Committee budget already proposes taking some of the new money.

“I certainly am not saying there is malicious intent on the part of any legislator,” Zehr said. “It is just what happens over time. In our case, it was 24 hours before the Legislature started to look at how they would spend that money.”

Luxem responded that the bill establishing the fees requires that the program end and money be returned to nursing facilities if the money is diverted for other uses. She noted that the state hasn’t swiped dollars raised by a similar fee for hospitals.

And she said nursing facilities might not get their 10 percent cut in Medicaid reimbursements restored without the new tax.

“I guess I’m being a realist,” she said. “I don’t believe there is any plans out there for any great revenue enhancements to help the great budget crises we are in.”


Bobo Fleming 5 years, 7 months ago

So lets get this straight. My mother who is presently paying $5000 per month for her nursing home care would somehow be better off if she had to pay an additional $110.47 per month to be sent to the State of Kansas so it could help her out by doing exactly what? I dont understand.

William Weissbeck 5 years, 7 months ago

Federal matching funds are just our own (or someone else's) tax dollars coming back to us. If we don't apply for the matching funds - what happens to them? Does another state get a bigger share? Does the money simply accrue in a dedicated fund? Or does it end up in a general federal fund to be spent elsewhere? That's the story that needs an answer.

Richard Payton 5 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like the State understands that most of the money is in the hands of the older folks and wants some. Many insurance companies understand that the wealth is in the hands of this era and a huge transfer of wealth will occur when these people die. States must come up with new tax base or collect more taxes in order to improve budget crisis. Simpflied version of how I see what is occuring and why nobody really likes the mess our state is in. This bed tax will raise cost of care for all us but what solutions exist?

Bobo Fleming 5 years, 7 months ago

Well actually the joke is on all of us because in a couple of months mom will have run through her life savings and will be on medicade along with 90% of the other people in the "home." One thing the nursing home industry has opposed and spent a lot of cash on "contributions" to our leaders is anytning that helps or supports in home care thus having 80 or 90 patients in mom's "home" on medicade and all of us paying the bill. To which I say when they call Mexico "cleptococy" that is a government organized around the prinicipal of taking bribes the Mexicans are just student drivers compared to our politicians who have developed this into some sort of a science.

Centerville 5 years, 7 months ago

Is there any possibility that the reporter could ask some questions and find out exactly what is going on here? Article makes zero sense. Since it's a new tax, I can only surmise that it is just another way to roll the people who actually pay for their own care.

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