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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Gracedale Nonprofit Options Hurt County Workers

Earlier this year, a divided Northampton County Council authorized a free "study" by Gracedale Administrator Premier Healthcare Resources on the feasibility of converting the County-owned nursing home into what is known as a 501c3 nonprofit. This move was opposed by Council members Ken Kraft, Bob Werner and Peg Ferraro. The report is in, and Premier will present its findings tonight. This report was supposedly authorized because the County wants to be able to take advantage of higher reimbursement rates for nonpublic nursing homes. According to the free study, that will be possible only if the County surrenders control to an outside board. Gracedale would no longer really be a County-owned home, and the County will have handed away about $35 million in assets for nothing.

Premier provides two case studies of county-owned nursing homes that went nonprofit, but retained control of the Board. Premier just happens to be the Administrator at both homes. In both of these examples (Monroe and Clinton County), there are no higher reimbursements being paid because the countries are still in effective control. But the counties have been able to create a fiction that the workers are no longer really county workers and thus justify vast reductions in the benefits paid. One home is in the black and another is breaking even.

So a study that was authorized ostensibly to study reimbursement rates instead focuses on how to hose the County worker.

"I have absolutely nothing against learning something for free," Glenn Geissinger said when he voted for this study. But there is no way you can trust a "free" study prepared by the very nursing home administrator that manages the two case studies it discusses. It is a sales pitch, not an independent evaluation.

The hard realities are that (1) if the County retains control, it will still get a lower reimbursement rate; and (2) the improvement in finances in the two case studies described have been on the backs of county workers.

This is a union-busting move from a County that refuses as we speak to place its painters in the union despite every indication that they belong there.


Anonymous said...

great put it on the unions and not the citizens. more citizens than union.

Anonymous said...

Pure smoke and mirrors show. No one on council has the political courage to challenge the status quo at Gracedale. It is a white elephant that will always be a drain on county resources. The place show have been sold. But the unions made sure that didn't happen with the referendum. So let's not waste our time and energy with other options. Gracedale is the third rail of county politics.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I agree they are cowards, but so are you. You also lack the political courage to ID yourself, and talk about them.