Profile: Joseph Lubarsky - A guy you can count on

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Joseph Lubarsky
Joseph Lubarsky

You might describe Joe Lubarsky as a “work hard, play hard” kind of guy.

The highly regarded accountant used to run 10 miles in the snow for charity. He can pound a beer with the best of them, and when he is not crunching numbers on Medicaid, he might be found umpiring college baseball.

Lubarsky, who runs Eljay, his own accounting firm, is not bashful talking about his career choices or his affinity for his clients.

“While other areas of healthcare presented greater opportunities, I worked exclusively in long-term care because I love the business and the people working in it,” says Lubarsky, 57.  

His annual Medicaid shortfall studies have helped the field lobby for higher reimbursements. He also has helped redesign states' Medicaid payment systems.

“He really is thought of as the most knowledgeable [person on] reimbursement, particularly in Medicaid, of any other professional in the country,” comments John Barber, CFO of White Oak Management in Spartanburg, NC.

Besides the shortfall reports, Lubarsky is most proud professionally of his work on provider taxes. He helped devise a system that would exclude those facilities with low Medicaid volume.

His passion for his work has not gone unnoticed.

“He clearly wanted to be the best,” comments Randy Severson, a former colleague at BDO Seidman. Lubarsky retired from BDO in 2006.

“He's a very driven man,” adds Ruby Jo Cummins Lubarsky, head of the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, and Lubarsky's wife.

If he is fond of his work, Lubarsky feels even stronger about United Cerebral Palsy of Southeastern Wisconsin. He is the namesake of Joe's Run, Walk & Roll, which he started back in 1987. As a gimmick, he ran 10 miles in the dead of winter from his home in Milwaukee to work to raise money. Today, Joe's Run is open to the public. This year's run raised $60,000. His two sons, Eric, 34, and Tony, 25, and nephew  now co-chair the event.

Lubarsky, who has a mild form of cerebral palsy that affects his fine motor skills and dexterity, attributes at least part of his success to the condition.

“People who have disabilities, I think they are more highly motivated,” he says. “I think they are extremely driven and they are out to succeed.”

While he jokingly admits he will never be a concert pianist, he says that his disability has never held him back. Growing up in Milwaukee, he played Little League baseball until eighth grade. He has four sisters. His late father, who was an airport maintenance foreman, pushed him to excel.

Now effectively retired, he has channeled his energy into small college umpiring in Kentucky. He and Ruby Jo, who married in 2001, love to spend time at their home in Myrtle Beach, SC, and other warm destinations. He has two grandchildren and a step-grandchild.

Ruby Jo, who describes him as kind, sensitive and extremely intelligent, said she actually thought he was “one of the most arrogant people I'd ever met in my life” when she first met him.

She still thinks he is a little overly confident.

“But he has cause to be,” she adds proudly.

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Resume

1974
Graduates with bachelor's degree in accounting from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

1974
Starts career at Nakin Schnoll and Co. as accountant. Firm merges into BDO Seidman LLC in 1986

1975
Joins board of United Cerebral Palsy of Southeastern Wisconsin (UCPSW)

1988
First year of Joe's Run for UCPSW. He runs 10 miles from his home in Milwaukee to office in wintertime. The run becomes an annual event

1999
Researches Medicaid shortfalls at nursing homes nationwide for the first time. Findings turn into yearly reports

2003
Begins work to expand use of provider taxes across country

2006
Retires from BDO Seidman. Later starts Eljay LLC accounting firm

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