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Kloeppel, Prussing, Danos Support Nursing Home Sale

Contact Darlene Kloeppel 217-384-7390 Kloeppel75@gmail.com


Contact Laurel Prussing 217-840-2106 laurelprussing@att.net


Contact George Danos 217-714-1348 gdanos@comcast.net

 

KLOEPPEL, PRUSSING, DANOS SUPPORT NURSING HOME SALE

Urbana, IL – Darlene Kloeppel (candidate for County Executive), Laurel Prussing (candidate for County Treasurer) and George Danos (candidate for County Auditor) announced today that they support the sale of the Champaign County Nursing Home to Altitude Health Services and Extended Care Clinical, LLC.

The three candidates want to strongly encourage the County Board to act now to prevent a worsening of the financial position of the county or even the shuttering of the home. The continued operation of the home by the county is very precarious for a number of reasons that are managerial, operational and financial. There are several key issues that could precipitate a forced closure, devastating to both residents and employees.

Operational Analysis: Darlene Kloeppel, former Ernst & Young, LLP, healthcare consultant and Director of Community Services for the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission

When I began my run for County Executive, I started with looking for possible strategies for the nursing home to remain a county-operated service. Because I’m committed to public safety net services that are both effective and accountable, I researched and here’s what I found:

  1. Is this a unique service not found in the private sector? No. However, without the county’s home there are not enough Medicaid beds for projected need for East Central Illinois through 2020. With the county’s facility, there would be 50 beds in excess of expected demand.
  2. Does the facility provide jobs that would be lost? No. If the facility is sold, approximately the same number and types of jobs will remain in the county to serve residents there.
  3. Can the county provide this service more effectively and efficiently than the private sector? No. For almost 10 years, the county has hired private firms to manage the home.
  4. Does the county need to provide this safety net for low-income residents? If privatized, Medicaid residents will continue to be served.

My conclusion: It is important for the well-being of our community that the nursing home Medicaid beds remain available locally. The best way to provide continuing quality care for residents is to sell the home to a private operator with successful management, operational and financial experience.

Financial Analysis: Laurel Prussing, former Mayor of Urbana and former Champaign County Auditor

When the City of Urbana faced a $1 million budget gap we solved it without cutting services, laying off employees or raising property taxes. Instead we cut administrative costs and health insurance costs (without reducing employee benefits) and increased small taxes such as the hotel-motel tax. I looked for a way to save the County Nursing Home starting with the question: “If a private company buys the nursing home, they would only do so if they could make a profit. So why couldn’t a county nursing home at least break even?” Here is what I found: 

  1. The Champaign County Nursing Home has not been able to break even for decades, if ever, instead relying on ever-increasing tax subsidies from the county.
  2. The amount of subsidy continues to grow faster than county revenues and is now nearly $4 million per year. The nursing home also owes the General Fund over $2 million.
  3. Should voters be asked to approve another annual property tax to increase the nursing home subsidy? Unfortunately, this was tried before and failed. Voters approved a special property tax to support the nursing home in 2002 to pay contributions for nursing home employees to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). This annual property tax has doubled from roughly $600,000 in 2003 to $1.3 million in 2018. However, operating expenses have risen faster so that county taxpayers are now back subsidizing both IMRF and Social Security for nursing home employees in addition to this property tax.
  4. A private nursing home would not need to pay IMRF and would only pay into Social Security.
  5. A private company that owns several homes has efficiencies of scale built into their operations. 

My conclusion: the best way to provide good care for residents and save the 200 jobs at the nursing home would be to sell to a private operator with a good track record in both patient care and respect for employees.

George Danos, CPA and candidate for County Auditor, said, "Our larger concern is for the nursing home to be able to continue its operations. I am confident the proposed sale will better vouchsafe the nursing home's future than further reliance on a string of emergency measures from the county. Moreover, I see the sale as win-win for all parties. In addition to reassuring CCNH residents, there will also be less stress on the county's general fund, which will be welcome news to county administrators and taxpayers alike."

By selling the home, the board could turn to some of the county’s most pressing needs, including opiod treatment and other mental health interventions and re-entry services for those incarcerated, as well as catching up on deferred projects such as updating the county's outdated computer system, jail-related issues and county facility maintenance.

The County Board’s value statement includes responsibility to the public through fiscal solvency, which is also their legal responsibility and, as the Democratic candidates running for the three countywide offices most involved with the county’s finances, we felt urgency to step forward with our recommendation to the board. We ask that County Board members consider long-term ramifications and act as fiduciaries of the public trust.

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