Letters to the Editor: March 22, 2023
Letters to the Editor published in the March 22, 2023 issue of the Tomahawk Leader.
Pine Crest Nursing Home
The following letter was sent by Lincoln County Board Chair Don Friske to Governor Tony Evers on Friday, March 17.
Greetings Governor Evers
On March 3 North Central Health Care submitted a request to the Lincoln County Finance Committee asking for $1,126,328.00 to cover 2022 calendar year losses specific to the operation of Pine Crest Nursing Home. Lincoln County contracted with North Central Health Care to Manage the Pine Crest operations beginning in 2020. Lincoln County retained ownership of and maintenance responsibilities for the building and grounds, as well as any budgetary shortfalls incurred by the operations of Pine Crest Nursing Home.
The request for over a million dollars from North Central Health Care was a generated from the elimination of an annual payment from the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Certified Public Expenditure payment (CPE), as well as a substantial reduction in the Medicaid Supplemental Payment program (SP). The budgeting process for county run nursing homes operated on a calendar year. Thus, the 2022 budget operational budget, as well as the 2023 budget, was contingent on anticipated funding based on prior years and anticipation to increased Medicaid reimbursement and no additional communication regarding any foreseeable impact. The loss of these funding streams this late in the calendar year left the nursing homes unable to make necessary adjustments to remedy the operational loss. For 2023, we are making adjustments to ensure we can absorb this loss, but ultimately need to continue to commit over $1 million dollars of tax levy to support the annual operation.
As I am sure you will understand a request for an additional $1,126,328.00 million dollars out of our levy of just $15 million will be nearly impossible for our local taxpayers to cover, especially given the inflationary strains on all of the other services provided by counties on behalf of the state.
Pine Crest Nursing home is home to over 85 individuals, each with specific care requirements and families counting on our staff to provide that care. Lincoln County has provided a nursing home facility for over 60 years positively impacting thousands of families. The cost of providing that care is becoming increasingly difficult and the elimination of the CPE payment and the reduction in the SP funding to rural Lincoln County makes it next to impossible.
County operated nursing homes are required to provide care under payment from Medicaid. The supplemental payment is intended to address low reimbursement rates and help make up shortfalls to the county budget ensuring continued operation of county owned nursing homes. The counties who had to make substantial changes to operations during Covid due to the financial inability to supplement losses through other means, were penalized as a result of the increased rates to the supplemental payment formula. To add a little salt to the wound, Dane county nursing home received a $7,000,000.00 dollar increase. I do not believe it was the intent of your administration to target rural Wisconsin nursing homes, but intended or not it impacts us the same.
Respectively, I am asking you to direct the Department of Health Services to reallocate the Supplemental Payment or in some other way make us whole for the 2022 and 2023 annual county budget cycles. Additionally, I am asking that you provide clear guidance in an urgent timeframe on what counties can expect so we as a county board can make well informed decisions regarding the feasibility of continuing to provide care for our residents.
Thank you for your taking time to read and consider this request.
Lincoln County Board Chairman
On the basis of who you want
On April 4, we go the polls to elect a Justice to our State Supreme Court.
On the basis of the TV advertisements, neither should be elected. I have not heard one positive ad why either should be elected, and that’s terrible. We used to elect people who were for some positive things and hoped that our judgment who was the better candidate was correct.
Now, the electronic world thinks we are no longer smart enough to make a choice between two decent candidates and that we need the help of despicable ads to tell us we shouldn’t vote for.
Is there a lot at stake? You betcha and that’s why it’s up to the voters to make the choice.
Please, make your choice on the basis of who you want and not on the basis of who you don’t want.