Kansas took over 22 struggling nursing homes in 2018
TOPEKA — Kansas lawmakers have tightened the financial requirements for a license to operate nursing homes after state regulators were forced to take over 22 struggling facilities last year.
Officials with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services told The Kansas City Star they had no choice but to step in because nursing home managers had fallen behind on bills for basics like food and utilities, putting the health and safety of residents at risk.
The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a package of health care legislation this month requested by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration that will require much more financial information from people who apply for nursing home licenses.
“It gives us a better opportunity to maybe know in advance if somebody coming in is maybe in financial difficulties,” said Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican who chairs the House Health and Human Services Committee.
Fifteen of the 22 homes the state had to take over last year were run by Skyline Health, a company owned by a family of investors and headquartered above a pizza parlor in New Jersey.
The Star reported last year that when Kansas issued the 15 licenses to Skyline in 2016, the company had already missed payments to vendors for laundry, housekeeping and food for its facilities in other states. Skyline owed almost $2 million when it was granted its Kansas licenses, according to a lawsuit filed by one of the vendors.
At the time, the state required applicants to provide financial statements showing they had enough cash or equity to meet at least one month’s operating expenses.
Under the new law, nursing home applicants must furnish a detailed budget for the first 12 months of operation, which matches Missouri law. They must also document that they have enough working capital to carry out that budget, and they must provide a list of all other nursing homes in the U.S. or abroad where they have ever had an ownership stake.
It also streamlines the legal process for the state to take receivership of nursing homes, which requires a court order.
Mitzi McFatrich, the executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, said she thinks the Kelly administration may seek more reforms in the future, but wanted to get a bill passed quickly this spring to address some of the problems that caused last year’s unprecedented situation.