Second meeting scheduled on future of Pocopson Home
By MICHAEL P. RELLAHAN
WEST CHESTER – Chester County commissioners scheduled the second in a series of public meetings
Wednesday, May 9,2012
Joanne Jones, center in green jacket, President of Premier Healthcare Resources speaks to over 300 people who filled a conference room in the new Chester County Administrative Office Building last week to talk about the fate of the Pocopson Home. Staff photo by Tom Kelly IV
The session comes after nursing home providers across the state met with legislators in Harrisburg Tuesday to protest the proposed 4 percent cut in Medicaid payments included in Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget. Chester County officials anticipate that the 4 percent cut could mean a loss of around $720,000 in payments to Pocopson that county taxpayers would have to make up.
The second meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, May 14, at the Downingtown High School East Auditorium, 50 Devon Drive in Uwchlan.
With state and federal reimbursements projected to decline, and operating and capital costs continuing to grow, the commissioners appointed Premier Health Resources from King of Prussia last year to produce a strategic plan for Pocopson by evaluating its needs and analyzing future costs.
Premier found that there will continue to be a need for senior care facilities in the county, and added that Pocopson provided high-quality care for its residents, including those that have limited funds for care.
The report identified three possible alternatives to operate Pocopson as it has been since it opened in 1951: to transfer its operations to a non-profit corporation, under which the county would continue to fund all operating losses; lease it to a private, for-profit operator, under which the county would continue to exert some role in Pocopson; or sell the facility outright to a private entity.
Commissioners have stressed that they have not made a final decision on the matter, saying they wanted to receive input from county residents and taxpayers about the future of the facility.
At the public meeting held on May 2 in the commissioners’ board room, those who spoke expressed strong support for keeping Pocopson in county hands and not selling it to a private operator who those in attendance felt would not give the same quality of care.
A strong presence from those who oppose any sale of Pocopson is expected as well for the meeting at Downingtown East. On Tuesday, e-mail messages urging attendance at the meeting were circulated with the message “Show Your Support For Pocopson Home.”
Pocopson is the county’s long-term health care complex, offering care for adults of all ages as well as professional medical, nursing and rehabilitation services. The 275-bed facility is certified by both the Medicare and Medicaid programs and private-paying residents are also accepted for admission at the home.
In Harrisburg about 650 caregivers gathered Tuesday to talk with legislators about the financial situation confronting Pennsylvania’s nursing homes. They asked legislators to restore the 4 percent Medicaid cut included in the proposed state budget for nursing homes so that quality care can continue to be delivered, according to a news release.
The caregivers gave each legislator a copy of a petition signed by more than 12,000 nursing home residents, families, staff and concerned citizens. The petition calls on legislators to preserve care for the elderly by restoring the Medicaid funds.
Because of recent Medicare cuts, nursing homes have laid off workers, reduced benefits, canceled renovations and upgrades to older facilities and delayed the purchase of equipment that could enhance patient care. With another 4 percent cut at the state level, many nursing home officials said they will have no choice but to turn away some seniors on Medicaid because they simply can’t afford to care for them.
Pennsylvania nursing homes would lose $102 million in state and federal Medicaid funding if the proposed state spending plan is enacted. Because Medicaid is a state-federal match program, the $46.4 million cut in the Governor’s proposed budget would trigger an additional $55 million in federal Medicaid cuts.
Even without this cut, nursing homes are already under-reimbursed an average of $19.23 per Medicaid resident per day; a 27 percent increase from last year’s shortfall of $15.13 per Medicaid resident per day. Two-thirds of all nursing home residents are on Medicaid.