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Kenai Council talks Meals on Wheels, Medicaid, capital projects

Posted: September 18, 2013 - 9:58pm

Kenai City Council during its Wednesday night meeting accepted a donated van for the Kenai Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels program and opposed proposed regulations that will decrease privately owned assisted living facility Medicaid payment rates. In a work session before the meeting, City Manager Rick Koch also briefed the council on 22 possible capital projects.

The senior center’s new van will allow the Meals on Wheels program to reach more seniors, Kenai Senior Center Director Rachael Craig said. The program delivers annually 2,500 meals to home-bound Kasilof, Soldotna and Kenai seniors, according to the resolution. 

In the last 10 years, the number of seniors the program serves has almost doubled, Craig said. And the program is still growing, she said. Now with two vans, the program can reach more seniors more quickly, said Joseph Jolly, president of Kenai Senior Connection, Inc., the fundraising branch for the program.

“This will make a difference,” Jolly said.

The passage of resolution 2013-63 marks the council’s opposition of regulations that, if approved, will make it harder for privately owned and operated assisted living facilities to pay their bills. The Department of Health and Social Services regulations cut Medicaid payment rates. Cory Castagneto, co-owner and executive director of Riverside Assisted Living, said the regulations could prevent him from opening a center in Soldotna.

“Personally I think it is horrible when any government entity tries to compete with private enterprise,” Kenai Mayor Pat Porter said.

Prior to the council meeting, in a work session with Rep. Mike Chenault and representatives for Rep. Kurt Olson and Sen. Peter Micciche present, Koch outlined the city’s capital project priorities. 

The list is not yet finalized. The top eight priorities and requested funding are as follows:

- A city light and heavy equipment storage building at $2.5 million;

- City street improvements at $1 million;

- Phase two of waste water treatment plant upgrades;

- A new fire engine at $500,000;

- Recreation center improvements at $500,000;

- Phase two of industrial park construction at $500,000;

- Senior center vehicle storage facility at $400,000; and,

- New fee shacks and automated pay parking and camping systems for the Kenai River’s mouth at $225,000, according to the document Koch prepared for council.

More information in Friday’s Clarion.

 

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com.

 

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JohnPeterZenger
731
Points
JohnPeterZenger 09/19/13 - 08:51 am
1
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Congresssional budget cuts and Meals on Wheels

“Personally I think it is horrible when any government entity tries to compete with private enterprise,” Kenai Mayor Pat Porter said.

Except, of course, that sentiment doesn't tell the whole story.

Medicaid paid nursing home care costs much more than Medicaid paid home care.

When the taxpayers are footing the bill, it's the government's responsibility to make sure the money isn't being ineffectively spent.

Spend money effectively taking care of senior's needs, or spend money propping up business models of private businesses hoping only to profit off of the needs of seniors?

Should be a clear and easy choice.

Government should promote whichever is most cost effective and it's already known which is most cost effective in this case, and it's not private businesses, which are trying to factor in their profits.

That unsupported notion that private enterprise is always more efficient, or more cost effective is bunk, it's a myth promoted by those who also attempt to say we have to allow the 'free market' to work. There is no free market, they just want government sanctions for their monopolizing of government contracts, where they can squeeze the treasury ala Halliburton.

It's no secret that the nursing home industry wants to get their hands on as much tax money as they can, they've employed lobbyists to work Congress and public relations firms to sell their schtick. Don't buy into it without seeing through the misconceptions.

Porter and those like her who make blanket assertions that public programs should always take a backseat to private enterprise are misguided. That generalization doesn't hold water under the most elementary scrutiny.

More often than not, the government run programs are less expensive and more efficient than private run programs.

Research from Brown University found that the more states spend on programs like Meals on Wheels, the lower their percentage of nursing home residents with low-care needs.

And that equates to taxpayer savings.

Meals on Wheels Association of America is already announcing that Republican led sequestration will cut the program for 19 million seniors, besides causing untold suffering and grief for 19 million seniors, as a result it will end up costing taxpayers much more than the supposed savings because many of those homebound seniors will be driven into Medicaid subsidized nursing home care and that costs taxpayers more than the Medicaid paid home care.

Meals on Wheels combined with all other nutritional related services accounted for just .02% of the Federal budget.

Republican led efforts to 'balance the budget' shouldn't fall on the shoulders of homebound and poor senior citizens.

That's just wrong.

Their sequestration is wrong, there is spending which can be cut that doesn't fall squarely on the backs of the elderly.

And Republicans have the gall to say they are compassionate conservatives.

Yeah, right, in a world of theirs where up means down.

Don't be fooled by Republican spin. Whatever else that spin might create, you can be sure it's not going to be good for the average taxpaying citizen. And in this case, it's sure not good for the elderly amongst us.

Better to get rid of misguided Republicans than to allow them to do further harm to our elderly.

SoldotnaMJ
2
Points
SoldotnaMJ 09/19/13 - 02:40 pm
0
1

Actually, JohnPeterZenger...

First of all, this article is NOT about nursing homes. It is about a much cheaper option called assisted living. Assisted living homes (ALHs) are often more cost-effective than providing personal care assistance (PCA) in a person's home if the person requires more than a certain number of hours per day. Nursing homes are skilled nursing facilities that have medical staff and expensive equipment, and cost around $500 per day.

Assisted living homes in Alaska (who provide 24-hour care, seven days a week, 365 days a year) currently have a regulatory rate that ranges from $141.08 per day to $155.01 per day, depending on how many the home serves, etc. Personal care assistance in a client's own apartment or home costs around $23 per hour. You do the math.

The State of Alaska is proposing to pay the State-owned Pioneer Homes (which are classified as assisted living homes) $354.55 per day, which is an increase of 200%. At the same time, they are proposing a reduction to private assisted living home owners of 7.8-20%, which would bring the private owners' daily rate down to $124.81-$130 per day. Outside of a few small adjustments, assisted living owners have not seen an increase in revenue in over a decade; are the costs of running your personal household lower than they were over a decade ago?

A wise business owner knows that doing business properly means hiring competent staff, providing continuing education, making capital improvements as necessary, performing regular maintenance and repairs, paying for all kinds of required insurances, and providing whatever his or her customers need to be satisfied and feel well taken care of.

I doubt that the majority of the general public has an accurate understanding of what the owners/operators/staff of good assisted living homes put into those homes. It's not just a job, it's a way of life. Owners and operators of good homes (there are other types of homes out there, but that is another story for another post) are on call every single day of the year, without a reprieve. There is no turning the phone off if they go out of town. Mourning the death of a loved one from their personal life takes a backseat to their residents' needs. Personal holiday celebrations are few and far between, if there are any at all. I'm not complaining, I am simply pointing out why these hardworking folks deserve a pat on the back instead of someone accusing them of being thieves who prey on the elderly and disabled. Good providers and caregivers earn every penny they can squeeze out of a barely solvent business.

I hope you have a good caregivers when you are of age, Mr. Zenger. Everyone deserves to have their needs met with dignity and respect.

KMarx
161
Points
KMarx 09/20/13 - 04:46 am
0
0

Appreciation

And I'd like to thank Gabby Johnson for that example of pure frontier gibberish. I for one am happy the children were able to hear it. Wow, what rambling buffoonery.

JohnPeterZenger
731
Points
JohnPeterZenger 09/21/13 - 09:01 am
1
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Actually.

It's not just a question of semantics, assisted living homes aren't nursing homes but they are similar in as much as they are descriptive of institutional care, and, this is key, assisted living homes are much more expensive than programs such as meals on wheels which enable many seniors to stay in their homes.

Note you wish to compare assisted living with personal care assistance. That comparison is not relevant.

It's programs like meals on wheels that you have to compare costs to, and that was what the Brown University study did.

Don't go on and on about trying to prove you're compassionate, ....where is that compassion when our elderly can't get the care they need without paying extra for your profit?

If your business plan is sketchy, don't expect taxpayers to subsidize you. If your business plan only works when you make profits off of others inability to care for themselves, you're no different than most of the corporate health care in this country. You profit off of health care. Your model necessitates that you take money beyond that needed to provide care.

I'd rather take profits out of the equation. I'd rather promote adequate and affordable health care, and that means removing the profit factor from healthcare.

So, no. You can speak of yourself as a 'wise business owner', but I see only someone wishing to profit off of the elderly.

I think there's a better way. For-profit healthcare is wrong.

Watchman on the Wall
2893
Points
Watchman on the Wall 09/21/13 - 05:27 pm
0
0

Give $$ to Senior centers if

Give $$ directly to Senior centers if you want to help for their meals delivery program that's what my wife and I give to. Also $$ for rides to the store for Seniors helps them out. Also anyone can go and have lunch at the different centers and that $$ for lunch also helps.

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