State News for January 2018

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State Sen. Joe Negron
State Sen. Joe Negron

Florida 

Florida's nursing homes need higher Medicaid rates, partially to offset generators, Senate president says

Increasing Medicaid rates to nursing homes is a “very strong priority” in the upcoming state legislative session, state Senate President Joe Negron (R) told The News Service of Florida.

“I do support an increase in their overall reimbursement. I have always been a strong supporter of nursing homes,” he said. The state delayed implementation of a new payment system, which would set a predetermined rate for services, until 2018, but does not fund the transition period for nursing homes.

Last year, Negron tried to carve out nursing homes from the state's Medicaid managed care program, although plans died in the House of Representatives. LeadingAge Florida “looks forward to helping however we can,” President Steve Bahmer told McKnight's. Existing Medicaid funds are “frequently inadequate,” he added.

Negron also said he wants help for nursing homes to offset the costs of adding generators under a proposed rule from Gov. Rick Scott (R). That rule came in the wake of Hurricane Irma and deaths at a Hollywood Hills facility that lost power and its air conditioning.

SOUTHEAST

Baby oil leads to arrest

NORTH CAROLINA — A Snow Hill nursing home employee is accused of putting baby oil on the bottom of a resident's feet as a way to encourage him to fall, according to local reports. Tiara Shackleford, 21, worked at Greendale Forrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and was listed as a nurse on the arrest report, according to WITN.

She was charged with felony patient abuse and neglect and misdemeanor assault of a handicapped person. Shackleford was released on a $25,000 secured bond and had a Dec. 22 court date. Greendale representatives declined to comment.

Ant bite case resolved

ALABAMA — A licensed practical nurse and two certified nursing assistants pleaded guilty last month to charges stemming from a nursing home resident having around 100 ant bites. Sandra Michele Curry, Kacey Minerva Allen and Shawna Rogers pleaded guilty in Cherokee County Circuit Court to one count of attempted elder abuse, a class C felony.

All three were sentenced in December to two years in prison but received suspended sentences and were put on probation. The employees had documented that they had checked “numerous times” on a bedridden resident at Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation in Centre, AL, on Sept. 3, 2016, according to state Attorney General Steve Marshall.

But surveillance video showed none of the three entered for around 11 hours. Jerry Culberson, CEO of Preferred Health Services, the company that manages Cherokee, told McKnight's in February the company self-reported the incident immediately after it was discovered. “On our review of our video camera system we discovered that [the employees] were not making rounds on the third shift as they should,” Culberson said.

MIDWEST

CEO stole benefit money

MISSOURI — A former nursing home CEO who embezzled $667,000 in Medicaid funds for personal expenses also took money from workers' 401(k) and health benefits accounts, according to local reports.

Johnnie Mac Sells, who was the owner and CEO at Benchmark Healthcare in Festus, MO, was sentenced to more than three years in prison. He pleaded guilty in October to using the Medicaid money for strip clubs, casinos and country clubs.

Sells also pleaded guilty in November to stealing from the employee benefit plan, the St. Louis PostDispatch reported. In that scheme, money was withheld from employees at Legacy Health Systems, which was run by Sells' family, but not deposited into 401(k) accounts, authorities said.

The plan had more than $800,000 in December 2015 and was empty a year later. Additionally, $20,000 meant for employees' healthcare plans was withheld, with the plan terminated in 2016 for nonpayment. But employees didn't know they no longer had health insurance, resulting in $124,000 in unpaid claims, the PostDispatch said. Sells was sentenced to 41 months and is required to pay back money he withheld.

PLAINS/MOUNTAINS

IJ citations, fines hit high

KANSAS — Immediate Jeopardy citations against the state's nursing homes have soared, jumping from nine in 2012 to 135 in 2016, according to LeadingAge Kansas. As of early December, inspectors had issued 99 citations in 2017. Fines also spiked in 2016, from $1.5 million in 2015 to $4.6 million the next year.

“There is no possible justification for a 9,000 percent increase in Kansas nursing home fines over the last five years,” said Rachel Monger, the organization's vice president of government affairs, according to the Wichita Eagle.