State budget cuts, delays could cost nursing home $200,000

State budget cuts, delays could cost nursing home $200,000

URBANA  -- Having just come through one financial crisis, the Champaign County Nursing Home may be headed for another one this summer.

Members of the nursing home board of directors were told Monday night that proposed cuts to the state Medicaid program could mean a loss of about $200,000 to the nursing home in the new fiscal year, plus longer delays in state reimbursements.

The nursing home budget this year is about $14.5 million.

“The rhetoric from Springfield is that we’re going to get dinged, anybody with Medicaid, meaning nursing homes, hospitals, anybody that works with Medicaid, we’re going to see a cut,” said Scott Gima, vice president of St. Louis-based MPA, the company that manages the county home. “The governor has put out a 9 percent rate cut. The state’s (Department of Healthcare and Family Services) has said in an internal document they’re anticipating it will be about 6 percent. Who knows what it’s going to be but we’re thinking it will be 5 or 6 percent. Whatever it is, it will be a big cut.”

The federal intergovernmental transfer program will soften the blow somewhat, Gima said, to perhaps a 3.2 percent reduction. But even that would mean the loss of around $200,000, he said.

But there also will be extended payments delays from the state to the nursing home. State payments are now running as much as 90 days late, Gima said.

“I don’t think they’ll be able to implement enough cuts that they’ll be able to pay all the bills,” he said. “So I think we’re going to be faced with the real possibility of a significant rate cuts plus additional payment delays over and above the three months we’re seeing now.”

Gima said county nursing home operators around the state are hopeful that the governor’s office, which he said is “very sympathetic to the position of the county homes,” would put the facilities “on a permanent prompt payment status, meaning getting paid within 30 days.”

He said that the nursing home has already cut its staff and can’t make afford to make any more than $10,000 to $20,000 in cuts.

“The reality is we’ve got to look at more revenue, because we can’t cut staff,” he said. “We can look at areas under expenses but realistically we won’t be able to come up with $200,000 worth of expenses.”

The nursing home will have to increase its volume, he said, including more patients and perhaps longer stays.

In recent months, the nursing home reduced its backlog of bills from $3.1 million last September to $1.8 million in February with a large federal payment and more timely state reimbursements. But that backlog is beginning to creep up again, Gima said, and will grow as the state payments are delayed.

The nursing home’s census has hovered around its goal of 195 patients for months; in February it was 194.2.

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