Feds owe $5.4M for Frederick County senior facilities -- Gazette.Net


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The president of the board of trustees for a Frederick County-owned nursing home and assisted-living facility said efforts are under way to collect $5.4 million in back Medicare and Medicaid payments from the federal government.

Sonja B. Sperlich said in an interview that Frederick County Commissioners need to understand that such reimbursements take time.

Erin White, the county’s acting director of finance, presented the commissioners with figures at a meeting on Feb. 28 showing that $5.4 million is owed to the county in Medicare and Medicaid payments for the nursing home and assisted-living residents.

Of that, $1.7 million is seven months behind. To make employee payroll and operate the two homes, $5.4 million will be taken from the county’s general fund budget for the current fiscal 2013.

LW Consulting Inc. — the Harrisburg, Pa.-based firm hired by the county in 2011 to manage the finances of the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living — is taking steps to collect the money, Sperlich said.

“We are really putting pressure on LW Consulting to bring the money in,” she said. “LW Consulting has brought on additional people, and they’re getting their business office up-to-date on the way things should be run.”

Commissioners’ President Blaine R. Young (R), who also serves as liaison to the board of trustees, said in an interview Monday that it is good to hear efforts are being made to collect the money.

“I’ll be pleased when it is in the bank,” Young said. “My biggest concern is the $1.7 million that is seven months old. That’s my biggest concern. How much of that will be written off? The point is, why did it take seven months to start collecting that money?”

Sperlich said collecting the money has been delayed by employee turnover at LW Consulting.

“In February, they brought on new employees, and they are really burning the midnight oil to bring the bottom line up to date,” she said. “But as with any government agency, it takes a while to bring the money in. I had hoped in January the numbers would have been an improvement, but we are trying to bring the money in.”

Sperlich said it is also important for the commissioners to understand that 60 of the 75 residents at Montevue Assisted Living are partially subsidized by the county.

“There has been no mention that there is already a built-in loss because the county is subsidizing 60 residents,” she said. “Any income the county gets is from Social Security payments. [Residents] turn over their Social Security payments to the county, except for $100 they are allowed to keep.”

The county is slated to spend $2,512,022 to run Montevue in the current fiscal year.

Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living are both on Rosemont Avenue in Frederick.

Since the 1800s, Montevue has served as a home for low-income residents. Citizens Care, which opened to its first residents in 1976, takes in low-income people first.

The assisted-living facility offers 75 private efficiency apartments at a cost of $145 per day. But 60 beds are set aside for low-income residents who receive subsidized care.

Last July, residents and staff moved into the new 40,000-square-foot assisted-living facility and 116,000-square-foot nursing home. The county spent $30 million building the two new homes, which sit on land adjacent to the former buildings, which were outdated, cramped and inefficient.

Since 2000, the county has spent $53.5 million operating both homes, according to its figures.

News of the shortfall comes at a time when the county is working to privatize or sell the two homes.

Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services of Maryland is currently taking proposals from companies interested in buying the facilities.

The commissioners want to privatize operations to eliminate the $5 million they spend annually to operate the two homes.

The commissioners are expected to make a decision on the sale in the next few months because the county’s contract with LW Consulting expires on June 30, 2013.

sgreenfield@gazette.net