Ryan Burns / Monday, Sept. 19, 2016 @ 4:49 p.m. / Government, Health Care
State Lawmakers Fighting to Prevent Closures of Local Skilled-Nursing Facilities
- State Unlikely to Block Closure of Local Skilled Nursing Facilities
- Skilled Nursing Homes’ Closure Plan Denied by State Public Health Department … For Now
Our representatives in both houses of the state government are working to halt Rockport Healthcare Services’ plans to close three skilled nursing facilities in the greater Eureka area.
Assemblymember Jim Wood met Friday with representatives from the company along with a Medi-Cal contractor and other stakeholders and he came away somewhat hopeful about identifying long-term solutions, according to a press release.
Senator Mike McGuire, meanwhile, is talking tough. Today he sent a letter to the California Department of Public Health saying, “This proposed voluntary closure will put the lives of some of the most medically fragile at risk and the company has not been engaged in real solutions to keep their facilities open and fully staffed prior to making their closure announcement.”
Here’s the press release from Assemblymember Jim Wood:
Sacramento – Assemblymember Jim Wood met with Rockport Healthcare Services, Partnership HealthPlan of California (PHC) and other community stakeholders last Friday to consider options to prevent the closure of three skilled nursing facilities in the Eureka area of Humboldt County. Rockport is the owner of the facilities and PHC is the health plan responsible for much of the contracted Medi-Cal coverage in the county, including nursing home services in the North Coast area.
“I am committed to pursuing every avenue to prevent the closure of these facilities,” said Wood. “This meeting was successful in bringing into the open all the issues and challenges faced in Eureka with the goal of finding a solution to closing these facilities and moving vulnerable residents miles away from their families.”
Last week, the California Department of Public Health rejected Rockport’s plan to close the facility because the plans did not adequately address the department’s requirements related to specificity on closures and impact on patients. Rockport had said its ability to remain financially sustainable has been jeopardized by staffing challenges and a Medi-Cal reimbursement formula that assumes lower operational costs in rural areas, which has not been the experience in Humboldt County.
“PHC has shown its commitment to keeping these facilities open by increasing its reimbursement rates by 2 percent and offering another 2 percent for Rockport’s willingness to participate in PHC’s Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Program,” said Wood. “I think that is very generous and shows what a great community partner they are.
“PHC remains committed to working with me to explore other short-term options to avert these closures. Additional options are under discussion this week and I am hopeful that if we can identify and agree upon short-term strategies, I can begin working with the state Department of Health Care Services to identify solutions that will ensure long-term stability, including introducing legislation to revisit the current reimbursement strategy to consider the unique wage and staffing challenges that have been identified in the county,” said Wood.
“Now the rubber hits the road. We have identified several solutions and now need to see Rockport step up and respond by not closing the facilities and continuing to work with all stakeholders to remain a provider for the long term.”
And here’s the statement from Senator Mike McGuire’s office:
Sacramento, CA – Senator Mike McGuire released the following statement regarding the new closure and relocation plans submitted by Rockport Healthcare Services for three of its Humboldt County skilled nursing facilities.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that we are here again,” Senator McGuire said. “Rockport’s latest closure plan is irresponsible, continues to put the lives of patients at risk and jeopardizes the safety net of the greater Humboldt County health system. We are encouraging the California Department of Public Health to once again reject Rockport’s short-sighted plans, which will leave our communities vulnerable.”
Today, Senator McGuire sent another letter outlining his concerns to the California Department of Public Health and urging them to again reject these closure plans. Senator McGuire is calling on the applicant and the state to explore all reasonable alternatives – and once and for all – develop a firm plan that will ensure Rockport’s patients health and safety is the top priority.
Attached is Senator McGuire’s letter to the California Department of Public Health.