Nursing home advocates allege state's financial, regulatory policies are pushing providers out

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Financial pressure and increased enforcement are driving skilled nursing operators out of Kansas, industry advocates told members of the state Legislature last week.

Several professional associations and some of the affected operators blasted state officials during a committee hearing on long-term care facilities Thursday, blaming federal changes and actions by Gov. Sam Bownback's (R) administration for increasing regulations while cutting funding.

“Shame on the state for even putting up with this kind of crazy mess,” said Cindy Luxem, president of the Kansas Health Care Association. “What I see is people pulling out of Kansas and not wanting to operate here. It's sad. It breaks my heart. You run the risk of not having the best providers.”

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Luxem criticized the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services for holding back most of a 4.45% funding restoration to Medicaid rates — representing a $55 million loss for long-term care facilities.

Rachel Monger, a representative of Leading Age Kansas, also said a 9,000% increase in civil penalties assessed against Kansas nursing homes from 2012 to 2016 was unjustified.

One owner told the panel he was fined $36,000 for a self-reported incident of a resident who wandered outside into the cold for 17 minutes, while another complained about Medicare eligibility delays that led to open cases for nine deceased residents with a pending claims value of $380,000.

Department of Aging Secretary Tim Keck said he would welcome an opportunity to explain the agency's approach at a separate public hearing, the newspaper reported.