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The Progress Home >> Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - Centre County discusses nursing home funding

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Centre County discusses nursing home funding
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
By Tyler Kolesar Staff Writer
BELLEFONTE - A discussion of the fairness on how county nursing homes and non-county nursing homes are run dominated the majority of yesterday morning's Centre County Commissioners meeting. Commissioner Chris Exarchos said they received a bulletin from the Department of Public Welfare stating the budget adjustment factor for non-county nursing home facilities will increase. Exarchos said county homes have not had an increase since 2006, as well as a 10.2 percent cut over the last two years.
"It seems that we have two parallel systems here," said Exarchos. "And they're going out of their way to penalize and make it difficult for counties to stay in business."
Exarchos says this is why many counties are struggling with the nursing homes they're running, while the privately-owned ones are in much better shape.
"It's just frustrating to me," Exarchos said.
Chairman Steve Dershem said when the snapshot to determine funding was taken back in 2006, the county was third from the bottom in reimbursements. Dershem said since then, the county's Case Mix Index is much higher than it was at that time.
"The number of therapies and the amount of care that we provide, in excess from 2006, is significant," said Dershem. "And yet we're not being reimbursed for that. There's no fairness in it."
Commissioner Michael Pipe agreed with Dershem and Exarchos, saying he feels it's a play by the state to get rid of the county-owned systems, putting everything into the private sector.
Dershem also said that the amount of money distributed is a "finite" amount. If Centre County would receive more funding, then some other area would then lose funding.
"If they took another snapshot, someone would be a loser," said Dershem. "We might be a winner, but somebody else would be a loser. And therein lies the real political reality is (that) you're fighting a losing battle."
Exarchos said because of the extra funding for private sectors, they can run more efficiently than county-owned ones. Exarchos said by law, county-owned homes are mandated by law to do things that private sectors don't have to do.
"For example, even if we have to patch a roof, we have to bid it out and do it under prevailing wage," said Exarchos. "A private business doesn't have to do prevailing wage."
County Administrator Tim Boyde said while the county faces challenges in running nursing homes, this does not mean the level of commitment is lower than private sector homes.
"It's not that care is compromised," said Boyde. "It's not that quality of service is compromised. We do that despite hurdles that we face."
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