Medicaid cuts leave Villa seeking help

by Kara Hansen 

OLATHE — Nursing home administrators across the state know all too well the adage: “You can’t get something out of nothing.”

Faced with increasing cuts to their Medicaid reimbursement, facilities like Villa St. Francis in Olathe are scrambling to make up for the deficits.

“Basically, we’ve experienced two blows to our budget that make it increasingly difficult to sustain our mission of serving ‘the frail elderly, with special concern for the poor,’” said John May, administrator/CEO of Villa St. Francis.

Major blows to Medicaid funding in the Kansas state budget are causing some hardships for the skilled nursing facility, which is sponsored by the archdiocese and currently serves 155 residents.

The 2009 Kansas Legislature froze 2010 nursing home Medicaid rates based on the average costs those facilities incurred during the years between 2005 and 2007. That translated into an expected reduction of $253,000 in Medicaid reimbursement for Villa St. Francis in 2010.

To make matters worse, additional legislative action led to a 10 percent cut to Medicaid rates in 2010. Villa St. Francis is expecting that action to result in losing an additional $437,583 for care provided to its residents. The outlook does not look much better for 2011, said May, when another five percent cut is expected.

“The state is expecting us to provide care in 2010 at rates of what it cost us to provide the same levels of care three to five years ago — and then reduced by another 10 percent,” said May. “There’s a growing and increasingly unrealistic gap between what it costs to care for residents and what Medicaid pays.”

With the current poor economy and stock market volatility, charitable donations are also down.

May said it was a challenge to maintain the same quality level of care for Villa residents on such a reduced budget, but it’s one the facility was striving to meet.

“We remain strongly committed to continuous quality improvement and to providing a compassionate, comfortable, and caring environment,” said May.

Still, with over half the residents at Villa St. Francis relying on Medicaid to pay for their care, the facility expects to take a $700,000 revenue loss this year. Villa St. Francis has a $10 million annual budget.

Administrators at Villa St. Francis have taken steps to deal with the cuts they are experiencing. Since the majority of the budget is made up of salaries and benefits, wages are frozen for 2010 for the 210 staff members employed there. Employee benefits were also modified. May also said Villa St. Francis would be adopting other operating efficiencies to increase its cost savings.

May encouraged families and friends of Villa St. Francis to contact their legislators to reverse the Medicaid cuts.

“The Villa has a legacy of more than 65 years of service,” said May. “We are hopeful that our friends and supporters will speak up on behalf of the Villa and our mission, and that legislators will understand and hear our urgent request to reverse the Medicaid cuts for the benefit of the frail elderly we serve.”

To learn more about Villa St. Francis, visit its Web site at www.villasf. org, or call (913) 829-5201. For names and contact information of legislators, visit the Web site at: http://www. kslegislature.org/redistricting.html.

Additional reporting provided by Therese Horvat.

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