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Nursing homes fight to keep their gravy train rolling

How much more whining do we have to hear from Louisiana’s nursing home industry? For years the state budget has treated it so favorably, and it’s hardly been punished for its many problems (the Times-Picayune is running stories starting yesterday about the serious problems in the industry).

Now because the state tries to bring some rationality to its health care cost structure, the industry whines about losing its favored status. This is, of course, an industry worth close to $700 million in revenues a year of which 85 percent of its funds come from taxpayers – payments by government. It’s an industry who has one of its own, state Sen. Joe McPherson, now controlling his chamber’s Health and Welfare Committee as chairman, whose record of partiality to the industry deserves scrutiny, who parrots such a pro-industry, “help us pay our mortgages” attitude it’s sickening.

This is nothing new: it’s an industry that complains every single time any move is made to cut off its gravy train, in 2003, last year, and now – because nothing ever changes. Regardless of how much more efficiency in using and savings of taxpayers dollars in an era of severe pressure on health care spending would occur through restructuring, it keeps crying about how it’s going to be harmed:

Joe Donchess, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, said he supports bringing choice to Louisiana's elderly and disabled, but he doesn't think the "most vulnerable of populations in Louisiana" should have to foot the bill.

"Many of our nursing home mortgages couldn't even be paid for ... let alone, we would never be able to make repairs to our facilities or buy needed equipment. It's just absolutely ridiculous what they're proposing," Donchess said.

Who’s the most vulnerable that are going to “foot the bill?” Residents, because if reimbursements go down homes will try to suck private pay money out of them? All right, cut your own throats because other options will be chosen by some despite you and more beds will go unoccupied (which would lower one of the nation’s lowest rates of bed occupancy – but the highest per capita – even further).

The problem is very simple – the industry as a whole grew fat and happy on what it believed to be an endless stream of ever-increasing payments, resulting in poor business decisions that created overexpansion. Now some would go out of business if Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s budget goes through as intended. Well, guys, welcome to the real world. Nobody owes you any business, least of all taxpayers, to save you from your mistakes.

Now we know why Donchess calls this “ridiculous” – because when he refers to “the most vulnerable of populations in Louisiana,” he really means the worst performing nursing homes. Let’s hope the governor and Legislature stand up to combat this greed during this session.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is no "care" in Nursing home care. A corporate structure to monitor and measure performance when peformance and care is a qualitative function fails..just like day care centers 'cept even worse..