URBANA -- The manager of the Champaign County Nursing Home said Tuesday he hopes Gov. Pat Quinn's office puts nursing homes at the front of the line when expected state payment delays arise this spring.
Nursing home manager Scott Gima made the comments Tuesday night at a county board study session on the nursing home, most of which was devoted to financial issues.
Gima told board members that he expects that the state to begin delaying payments to nursing homes and other service providers as soon as the next two months.
"One of my contacts says he believes that the state is going to start running out of money in March, and will have to start delaying payments even further," Gima said. Medicaid payments from the state now are running about two months late, he explained.
If Medicaid payments to the nursing home -- roughly $300,000 a month -- were to stop in March, the nursing home would run out of money in June if no other actions were taken, Gima said.
But three options are available, should Medicaid payments end abruptly, he said. One is for the nursing home to delay paymemts to its vendors by $200,000 a month.
"So instead of running out of cash in June, we could make it to August or September," Gima said. "But that's predicated on how reasonable our vendors are going to be."
A second option is for the nursing home to issue revenue anticipation notes, which would allow it to borrow money anticipated from the state. But the county government would have to guarantee the payments if the state delays on its reimbursement.
The third option is what Gima called "the ace in our hip pocket," having Quinn issue a policy directive to ensure that nursing homes are paid regularly, even in a financial emergency.
"We can live with a three-month delay as long as we get regular payments," he said. "I am pretty optimistic that we will be successful with this but they have not pulled the trigger with this because there's no urgency because people are receiving regular payments."
For the most part, board members said, any financial problems at the nursing home are the result of delayed state payments.
Board members learned that occupancy at the facility has increased from 70 percent to 82 percent over the last four years, and that contract nursing costs have plunged from a high of $150,000 a month to about $44,000.
Only two of the 22 board members -- Republicans Diane Michaels and Jon Schroeder -- did not attend the study session.