After protecting 55 sites, Consulate Health Care looks to stay in business at another Florida SNF

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Consulate is Florida's largest nursing home operator
Consulate is Florida's largest nursing home operator

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include comment from Consulate Health Care.

Fresh from negotiating an agreement that protects licenses at 55 of its 77 Florida facilities, Consulate Health Care is working to win back its right to provide skilled nursing services — and get paid by Medicaid and Medicare — at one of its most troubled locations.

Oakbridge Healthcare Center in Lakeland, FL, was closed Jan. 6 after losing both its Medicare and Medicaid funding streams. Lawyers are appealing and preparing for a May hearing, local media reported.

With more than two-thirds of its licenses in jeopardy, Florida's largest nursing home operator and state regulators reached an agreement April 10 that includes two-year improvement plans for eight facilities.

In December, state documents showed that 55 of the 77 nursing homes owned by Maitland-based Consulate Health Care in Florida were in litigation over licensing issues. That's about one-twelfth of all Florida nursing homes, according to The Ledger.

The newspaper reported that the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration agreed not to hold the company's other facilities liable for deficiencies at Oakbridge Healthcare Center, which had its CMS contracts terminated in December.

In a statement emailed to McKnight's Monday, Consulate vice president Jennifer L. Trapp said her company is "grateful for the partnership between Consulate and the Agency for Healthcare Administration."

"By coming together, our collective focus can remain on improving health outcomes and the quality of life for our residents," Trapp wrote. "Over the course of the last two years Consulate has made wonderful advancements, and the partnership with the agency ensures those will continue.  We remain in constant dialogue with the agency regarding our Oakbridge care center, and believe the parties will reach a resolution in the coming months."

On Dec. 14, the state terminated Oakbridge's Medicaid contract over repeated health and safety violations, banning it from participating in the federal-state health insurance program for 20 years. About two weeks later, the state denied the facility's license renewal.

Oakbridge filed an appeal and now has a conditional license.

Consulate also paid Medicare a $121,000 civil penalty and signed a settlement agreement in connection with Oakbridge operations, according to the Ledger.

A two-day hearing is scheduled to start May 25 on Oakbridge's appeal to its ban on being a Medicaid provider.