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Nursing home advocates angry with Kansas financing, regulation maneuvers

“The changes in processes around KanCare and the compounding effects of unreliable and undependable funding has put Kansas adult care homes on a financially unsustainable path,” she said. She said the adult care industry in Kansas shouldn’t be viewed ...

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Tim Carpenter TimVCarpenter A flurry of Kansas nursing home operators and professional associations representing long-term care facilities on Thursday delivered emotionally searing critiques of government regulatory and financial decisions damaging to the $1.7 billion industry.Frustration expressed to members of the House Health and Human Services Committee was directed at the federal government, including actions ordered by the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama, and the state government under control of Republican GovSam Brownback.Cindy Luxem, president of the Kansas Health Care Association, applauded the Legislature’s vote to reverse a 4.45 percent cut in Medicaid ratesShe also denounced a shell game perpetrated by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to thwart most of that gain.The residential care facilities were surprised when KDADS withheld 3.65 percent of the funding restoration, she saidThe result was the Brownback administration avoided distributing about $55 million to nursing care facilities.“Shame on the state for even putting up with this kind of crazy mess,” Luxem said“What I see is people pulling out of Kansas and not wanting to operate hereIt’s sadIt breaks my heartYou run the risk of not having the best providers.”KDADS Secretary Tim Keck, who attended the committee hearing, said he would welcome an opportunity to explain the agency’s approach at a separate public hearingHe also invited those with complaints to call him directly and offered his office telephone number.Brownback and GOP legislative allies implemented KanCare, a privatized system of operating Medicaid, by signing contracts with three for-profit insurance companiesSince implementation in 2013, KanCare has been a frequent target of criticismBrownback and LtGovJeff Colyer view the privatization effort as a success that saved money and improved quality of care.Luxem said she disagreed with the administration’s self-assessment.“The changes in processes around KanCare and the compounding effects of unreliable and undependable funding has put Kansas adult care homes on a financially unsustainable path,” she said.She said the adult care industry in Kansas shouldn’t be viewed as an afterthought by lawmakers because the sector generates nearly $1.7 billion annually for the state’s economy.Rachel Monger, a representative of Leading Age Kansas that serves interests of 150 senior care organizations statewide, said the 9,000 percent increase in civil penalties assessed against Kansas nursing homes from 2012 to 2016 was unjustifiedKDADS performs inspections of facilities across the state, but the federal government sets penalty rates.Fines levied in Kansas totaled $52,275 in 2012 and $4.69 million in 2016, she saidMany of the sanctions were tied to determinations that people in a care facilities were in immediate jeopardy — the most severe categorization of danger.“Our greatest concern is over the number of immediate jeopardy citations being imposed on nursing homes in Kansas and the devastating impact it has had on their ability to provide quality care to the seniors in our state,” Monger said.She said the number of immediate jeopardy citations issued in Kansas was three times higher than in Missouri and Nebraska.Scott Averill, owner and operator of Brookside Retirement Community and Wellsville Manor, said that in 2016 a confused resident walked out of one of his facilitiesThe woman was in the February cold for 17 minutesThe incident was self-reported as requiredAnd, he said, his business was fined $36,000On appeal, it was reduced to $12,000.“We’re a small mom-and-popIt is tough to write a check for those fines when your commitment is to provide great care and great quality of life,” said Averill, pausing to catch his breath while weeping“Didn’t expect to get emotionalI apologize.”Rodney Whittington, CEO of Villa StFrancis Catholic Care Center in Olathe, said the state’s backlog in processing Medicaid applications was a problem that remained five years into KanCare.He said at this point in 2017 the Villa StFrancis had 44 residents with pending Medicaid applicationsThis year, he said, 11 people had Medicaid applications waiting approvalIn addition, the facility has nine cases pending for applicants who have diedThe value of those open cases is $380,000.“The pushback and complications from the state have only increased,” Whittington said“From reimbursement cuts to survey fines, we often find ourselves investing time and funds into placating the state’s regulations that should be invested in what matters — our residents.”  Never miss a story Choose the plan that's right for you. Digital access or digital and print delivery. Subscribe Now Sign up for daily e-mails Sign up Site ServicesMy ProfileContact Use-EditionNIESubmissionsLetter to the EditorCalendar EventObitsAdvertisingClassifiedsPlace an AdCircularsBusiness DirectoryRewardsStay ConnectedFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTubeRSS

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