Saratoga County's Maplewood Manor gets surprise revenue boost
SARATOGA COUNTY Most of the financial news about Saratoga County’s Maplewood Manor nursing home has been bad in the past few years, but there was recently some good news.
The county will be receiving an unexpected payment under Medicaid’s inter-governmental transfer system that will net the nursing home an additional $2.4 million in revenue.
“This doesn’t solve the underlying problems at Maplewood Manor, but it’s a big help,” said county Board of Supervisors Chairman Alan Grattidge, R-Charlton.
The county is currently in the process of putting the 237-bed nursing home in Ballston Spa up for sale, because it has consistently lost $8 million to $10 million a year, primarily due to low Medicaid reimbursements.
The intergovernmental transfer payment arrangement is to go before the Board of Supervisors for approval on Feb. 26.
Under the arrangement, the county will send the state about $2.3 million in Medicaid funds, and the state will then pay it more than $4.7 million in reimbursement. That means the county will net approximately $2.45 million — money that can be counted toward covering Maplewood’s anticipated $10 million deficit for 2013.
The county has received an inter-government transfer payment toward Maplewood Manor’s Medicaid costs in previous years, but can’t count on it, said Ryan Moore, the county’s management analyst.
“It’s subject to negotiation between the state and federal governments,” he said.
Under the system, the state adds local Medicaid costs to its own Medicaid total to increase the amount the state asks the federal government to reimbursement. The state then shares whatever it receives from the federal government with local governments.
“It’s basically an extra funding allowance the state can tap into,” Moore said.
But it’s a system that often draws the attention of federal budget critics, who have called for eliminating it to reduce federal Medicaid costs.
“We don’t budget for this. It’s such an uncertain thing, we never know when we might get it,” Moore said.
The news comes as the county continues to push forward with plans to sell the nursing home.
The new local development corporation that recently took ownership of the nursing home has begun the work that’s expected to lead to selection of a buyer.
There have been plans for the LDC to borrow money to help cover the current deficit, but Grattidge said the special Medicaid payment should lessen pressure to do that.
“The budget impact is very positive,” he said.
The Harris Beach law firm, which is consulting with the county on the transition plan, said the current situation — in which the county loses $8 million to $10 million a year on the nursing home — is “unsustainable.” But its study found the nursing home beds are needed in the county, and it recommended the county sell the facility to someone who will keep it open.
A request for proposals from real estate brokers to handle the marketing will be released this week, and the local development corporation could be ready to select one by late March.
The goal is to have a buyer selected by the end of 2013, though the state Health Department’s required review is expected to hold up a closing until mid to late 2014.
County officials said quality of care will be one of the things they will consider as they review possible purchasers.
“It’s our job and due diligence to research these bidders,” said LDC board member Bill Peck, who is the Northumberland town supervisor. “There’s been some fear that all we will look at is a number. That’s not the case. We will look at quality of care.”