The Burlington Times News had an interesting article today about a senior health center in Burlington that may close if scheduled cuts to funding through the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services go through.
Nearly 140 seniors attend the Program for All-Inclusive Care (PACE) in Burlington, which acts similar to an adult day care home but also coordinates and provides on-site medical care for seniors that otherwise would have to move into nursing homes.
It appears that DHHS Medicaid staff capped enrollment in the PACE program in April, which created an issue for the Burlington facility because a new PACE center had already gotten the go-ahead to open in Pittsboro.
Piedmont Health SeniorCare, a nonprofit that runs both PACE programs, said the caps DHHS recently announced for the program means there’s not enough money to run both the existing Burlington facility and the new one, which was built to serve up to 200 seniors.
With DHHS only authorizing total funding for 160 patients, the group would have to close the Burlington facility because so much debt is still owed on the new center, Piedmont Health CEO Brian Toomey told the Burlington newspaper.
“And that’s with a broken heart,” he said. “We cannot successfully operate two separate programs with 80 people at one and 80 at the other. It doesn’t work financially.”
Lawmakers from Alamance County area are vowing the money to undo the DHHS cap, with one Republican House member vowing to not vote on the state’s $21.1 million budget unless there’s funding for the PACE program.
From the Burlington Times-New article:
Alamance County’s state lawmakers say they support the program and want to restore its funding.
Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, called this year’s cap on PACE enrollment “a mistake” that is unfair to Piedmont Health after the state green-lit the Pittsboro facility.
“We are working to get about $30 million of those dollars reinstated,” Gunn said last week. “I’m trying to get the cap removed because when (Piedmont Health) made the commitment to invest these dollars in Pittsboro, it wasn’t based on a cap. There’s no way there’s a return for the people that invested in that program. I don’t think that’s right.”
Proposed budgets from Gov. Pat McCrory’s office and the Senate haven’t lifted those caps. Problems could lie in restoring PACE’s budget amidst large, proposed cuts and reforms to the state’s Medicaid program.
Gunn thinks the governor’s office and others have been confused about how the PACE program works. Gunn believes the program saves the state money. He said he’s working to change perception in the Senate and House.
On Tuesday, the House released a draft of its proposed budget and included full funding for PACE.
Rep. Steve Ross, R-Alamance, believes state lawmakers are committed to funding PACE programs.
“I’m very confident that PACE funding will stay,” Ross said. “Some of us have decided we are going to dig in. I’ll sit here until September if I have to. I won’t vote on a budget that doesn’t include it.”
Click here to read the entire article.