Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cedarbrook's Woes By No Means Unique

Unions and Mayor Callahan supported Gracedale
County-owned nursing homes like Gracedale are viewed with reverence by most locals. Few among us have not sent a loved one there. At one time, it was the home of last resort for those without means. At one time, fifty of Pennsylvania's sixty-seven counties owned and operated nursing homes. Originally "poor houses," they morphed into homes for seniors with little or no means, and who had no place else to go.

But times change. These days, public nursing homes get plenty of competition from the private sector, who can care for people without the high labor costs. Private home also get a higher medical assistance reimbursement rate. So they can flourish while public homes flounder.

This week, Gracedale re-opened a wing for its growing census, which is hovering around 650. Things are looking up. But it still burned through its $3.6 million annual subsidy in just six months, despite major concessions from the union. Whether that changes in the second half of the year should be known soon.

While Gracedale's financial picture is still murky, The Morning Call reports that Lehigh County nursing home Cedarbrook is falling on hard times. Its census has declined, and unions there have made no concessions. It will burn up $6.5 million in County tax dollars this year, about twice what was budgeted.

About 2/3 of the money coming into counties is in the form of reimbursements from the state or federal government. The remainder comes from real estate taxes imposed on residents. In Northampton County, that is hovering around $90 million per year. In Lehigh, it's slightly more. When there is a shortfall like the ones at Cedarbrook or Gracedale, that money is made up for with those tax dollars.

So counties are slowly getting out of the nursing home business. At the beginning of this year, only 33 counties still had their own nursing homes. After this year, that number may be down to 28.

Blair, Beaver and Franklin Counties have all sold their homes. Montgomery County is reviewing bids. Centre County made an interesting conversion to non-profit, which will allow for some public control.

In a plebiscite, the voters made clear they want to keep Gracedale. But they also have to pay for it. At what point will the cost be too high?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

County council sued to spend more than the management firm they hired said was necessary for non emergency care. They're not even trying to run the place efficiently. Considering that not a single person will be thrown to the street if Gracedale closes (in fact they will likely receive better care), even one more penny spent there is a waste.

Anonymous said...

County council sued to spend more than the management firm they hired said was necessary for non emergency care. They're not even trying to run the place efficiently. Considering that not a single person will be thrown to the street if Gracedale closes (in fact they will likely receive better care), even one more penny spent there is a waste.

Anonymous said...

"Northampton County is selling 37 bed licenses to bring in additional money and pump up its annual subsidy from the state, which rewards homes that maintain a high occupancy rate."

If it had a high occupancy rate, it wouldn't have bed licenses to sell. Our tax dollar's will now make up the difference for their deceptive subsidy claim. They are lying to recieve subsidies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Nobody is lying. Geez.

Anonymous said...

A premeditated manipulation of statistics to recieve subsidies that they are not currently eligible for. It is a lawfull jiggleing of number's that is seems deceptive in practice. It is not lying, per se.

Anonymous said...

O'Hare will go to his grave selling the Angle/Stoffa line about selling Gracedale.

The people heard your bullshit and saw it for what it was. Keep beating that horse O'Hare, maybe one day it will move.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's too bad you allow your personal hatred to blind you from looking at issues on their merits, as they do everywhere else.

Anonymous said...

McCain also recalled the the 2009-2010 debate over Obamacare -- before Cruz was elected to the Senate -- saying "the people spoke" on the issue when they reelected President Barack Obama in 2012. McCain said lawmakers shouldn't "give up our efforts to repair Obamacare" but said it wasn't worth shutting down the government.

"We fought as hard as we could in a fair and honest manner and we lost," McCain said. "One of the reasons was because we were in the minority, and in democracies, almost always the majority governs and passes legislation."

Anonymous said...

layers and layers (and then layers) of irony in that picture

Anonymous said...

Is that Gregory in the picture? And who is that that Callahan has his arm around? That girl ain't flat-chested like the Witch from W.E. says!

Anonymous said...

The shirts in the photo are funny. They didn't save Gracedale. They sentenced it to a slow, agonizing death.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That pic includes Callahan, who has been attacked falsely for not coming out to support Gracedale. He is posing with Gregory's ex. And Gregory is in that pic, too.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I would agree with those observations. Part of making Gracedale work is being honest about its flaws as well as it's strengths.

Anonymous said...

It is very simple. Government should not be in the nursing home business. That should be left to private entities.

Anonymous said...

"That should be left to private entities."

Yes, they have historically been great with the poor. A lot of profit in caring for the most ill and poorest elderly. Great market model there sparky!

Anonymous said...

Privates make Gracedale look like the prison from Midnight Express. Check the ratings.

Anonymous said...

Post the link to the Ratings that you refer to please.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The ratings at Cedarbrook are very high. The link is at the Medicare site.

Anonymous said...

Somehow the ratings seem to miss the smell of urine. Get off your 9-12 ass and walk thorough these places.

Bill Coker said...

Unfortunately the unions did a great marketing job with the "Save Gracedale" campaign. They gave the impression (that many less informed bought) that it would be closed if sold. Fact of the matter still is that private is cheaper and better for occupants and county taxpayers. The other counties experiences prove it.

Anonymous said...

You right wing nut jobs just don't get it. The people of NorthAMPTON County voted overwhelmingly to keep Gracedale in County hands. It would be political suicide to atte,pt to sell Gracedale. Gracedale is a County institution much like Lehigh University or Moravian and Lafayette College. The people are proud of their Nursing Facility and have voted to pay what ever necessary to keep it under County Control. Get used to it. The Nursing home will remain under County Control regardless of the cost.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is not just "right wing nut jobs" who think Gracedale should be sold. In about two years, this will be apparent to many more people. Obamacare is going to increase the pool of people for whom Medicaid is available, but the dollars will not be there. The focus will be acute, not chronic, care. That will mean less money for nursing homes and less people in them. The industry is withering, and the only real reason to sustain it will be to provide jobs for the union workers. I am in the process of researching this matter, and unfortunately, things don't look good for public nursing homes. When the County does sell, it will get nothing. Stoffa will be seem prescient.

Bill Coker said...

For reasons just like this, I now live in South Carolina but still care about my son and grandchildren who live and pay taxes in the county (I also own property and pay taxes there). Gracedale is a money pit and it will get worse. Right wing or left, we'll all be stuck. I'll stick with my comments at 11:34.

Anonymous said...

So Bernie in your faux news research, think about were chronically ill elderly will go, if it becomes "unprofitable" to care for them.

Your argument would seem to push the Republican theme of get out now while the getting is good, because in a few years it will cost more to take care of the millions of chronically ill elderly.

If there is no profit to be had do you believe the privates will want to take them?

Time to think a bit beyond shallow for the moment emotion.

Anonymous said...

"The thing that staggers me about the Republican hatred of this law is its abstract quality. They never address the real problem of our massively inefficient private healthcare market, which is a huge burden on the economy. They never address how to help the millions of uninsured adults get the care all human beings need. They appear to regard a Heritage Foundation, free-market-designed, private healthcare exchange system as some kind of communist plot. They do not seem to believe there is any pressing problem at all. And they have nothing constructive to offer.

This is not about Obamacare. It is not even about politics. It is about a form of revolt against the very country they live in."

Anonymous said...

Maybe Callahan was hitting n Mr. Gregory's girlfriend. he is holding her pretty close.