City says no to nursing home proposal

A proposal that could put the city of Yukon into the nursing home business has received “no“ recommendations from the city manager and city attorney.

Yukon City Manager Jim Crosby sent an email to city council members late last week recommending against participating in the proposed supplemental Payment Program for Nursing Facilities Program.

His recommendation follows a letter from City Attorney Gary E. Miller that was issued Oct. 4.

Miller voiced concerns the program could increase the city’s liability.

“When a lawsuit is filed, all parties regardless of their involvement or liability are named as defendants. If the City is the operator of a nursing home when a claim arises, it is inconceivable that the city would not be named as a defendant, regardless of whether it is a state claim or a federal claim,” Miller writes.

Under the proposal presented by Spanish Cove CEO Don Blose, the city of Yukon would become the license holder for nursing homes as a way to increase Medicare payments. The city would take control of the license, while Spanish Cove would be the operator.

In return, the federal government would boost its payments to the nursing homes, and the city would share in those additional monies.

As it stands now, Oklahoma has not been approved to participate in the program, but is expected to appeal any negative decision from the federal government.

Miller, in his letter, suggests that the liability concerns are significant, and should be discussed with the city’s insurance carrier before moving forward with the proposal.

City Manager Jim Crosby said his recommendation against the proposal was that the city isn’t in the nursing home business.

“There are some businesses that cities have traditionally operated and have done well. Things like water, sewer and certain utilities that are quite traditional businesses,” he said. “I think we need to stay in what we do well.”

If the city were to look at outside businesses, it shouldn’t be on that is marginal or has high liability concerns, Crosby said.

“I would concur with the attorney’s opinion,” he said.

Blose, who was notified of Crosby’s recommendation on Thursday, said he is disappointed but understands.

“The city is taking a cautious approach because there is a lack of clarity on what the liability of this program is. I’m like them. I don’t want to do anything that we don’t know what the risks are,” Blose said.

Blose said once the program is approved for Oklahoma and there is more background information available, he may ask city officials to reconsider their decisiion.

“The whole objective is to help nursing homes across the state because of the cuts that are looming. There are some facilities that will go out of business because the Medicaid payment rate doesn’t cover the cost for care they are providing,” he said. “This was a way to help the communities.”

“We will have to see. I am optimistic,” Blose said.

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