Trouble ahead

Trouble ahead

What's to be done about the county's nursing home?

Inaction leavened by hope triumphed Tuesday over a proposal for a difficult debate on the future of the Champaign County Nursing Home.

The financially troubled institution faces serious challenges. Nonetheless, county board members dropped plans to ask voters' advice in the November election.

A handful of Democratic and Republican board members suggested presenting voters two related questions. One involved a proposed property-tax increase of 3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to help bail out the nursing home. The other asked for voters' permission to sell the nursing home if the property-tax increase was not approved.

Instead, however, the proponents decided to drop the issue both for a lack of support and their own misgivings about the soundness of their plan.

Board members and taxpayers alike will sit tight and see how the future unfolds. If past is prologue, big problems loom. The nursing home has lost money in eight of the last 12 months.

On the credit side of the ledger, it has a cash balance of nearly $1 million and accounts receivable of roughly $4 million. Unfortunately, much of the money it's owed is from the state's Medicaid program, and our virtually bankrupt state is not too keen on paying its bills. The nursing home owes $2 million.

It's hard to run a business under those circumstances. That's why proponents of the ballot questions, like Urbana Democrat Brendan McGinty, wanted to bring voters into the debate.

Ironically, it's hard to imagine presenting two more unpopular subjects to local voters.

Champaign County residents, who have been incredibly supportive of the nursing home, would surely view selling the nursing home as a serious defeat. At the same time, in the wake of a series state and local tax increases, they surely are tired of requests for more.

So county board members will remain on their own as they face this dicey issue, and that's not necessarily good. McGinty suggested that some board members simply do not understand the depth of the problems surrounding the nursing home and are simply hoping that somehow, some way, things will work out in the end.

That's no way to do business. But, for now, taxpayers can only hope board members' wishful thinking is realized.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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Sid Saltfork wrote on August 10, 2012 at 11:08 am

The situation is only going to worsen.  The State of Illinois has cut services to the elderly that allowed them to continue living in their homes with some assistive care paid by the state.  The result will be more of the elderly forced into care facilities with Medicaid paying the bill.  That is more costly than the previous program of home assistance.  Add to that the aging Baby Boomer population.  Poor political decisions, and delayed political decisions will end up being another crisis down the road.  "Kicking the Can" seems to be American politics from top to bottom.

pattsi wrote on August 11, 2012 at 11:08 am

The inaccuracies contained in this editorial is an excellent example why so many CB members felt it was premature to place any referendum about the CCNH on the Nov. ballot. Mr. McGinty makes the argument that most board members do not understand the situation. If he feels this is the case, then how in the world could the board possibly bring the county citizens into the conversation plus educate them in the 2 months before the Novemer elections. The N-G has a copy of the proposed referenda; yet, could not represent them accurately.

So for clarification--the first referendum was asking the voters if they would vote "yes or no" to raise the assessment from 3 cents to 10 cents/$100, which is the cap amount. The referendum did not state that the CB would act on icreasing to the cap, just asking to be able to do so. The second referendum was asking the voters if they would vote "yes or no" to sell the CCNH; the is venue can not be leased. Further last sentence of paragraph 6 ought to read "....owed $2 M."

Second to the last paragraph--"So county board members will remain on their own as they face this dicey issue,...."  Why not encourage the CB to have a study session to look at 3-4 possible scenarios as to what might happening related to the CCNH, taking into account that Ford County closed that one and Vermillion probably will do the same, leaving Champaign with a county nursing home. Why not do some investigative reporting to find out how many actual medicaid beds exist within the county and what potentially will happen to those in CCNH under medicaid when all of those medicaid beds no longer exist. And this study session could engage the county citizen to listen to those concerns/suggestions and educate the public about all aspects of this situation.

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on August 12, 2012 at 3:08 pm

It is common knowledge in the United States the majority of states have long since got out of state-or county-operated nursing homes.  Illinois is one of only a handful that have not progressed to turning these over to private ownership.  This would reflect a political position of "progressive" if the County nursing home were sold--even though the reality is a cash sale of 25-50% of its value; that is what buying and selling is fundamentally all about.

Instead--the local politico's want to buy Olympian farmland and spend legal monies for property seizure and paved roads to nowhere.  The registered voters of Champaign county interpret this as "regressive" politics--like the regressively repeated rescue of the Jumer's castle lodge.   In our voter's minds,  "progresive" as used recently by governing agencies is a simple lie.