(This story has been updated.)
Kansas officials have received a court order Friday to expedite their takeover of 15 financially troubled nursing homes. State regulators say they need to move quickly to protect hundreds of elderly and disabled Kansans who reside in the facilities.
Normally, the state would need orders from 15 separate judges to take control of the facilities, which are scattered across the state. But the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services was granted an order from the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday consolidating all the cases under a single Johnson County District Court judge.
In a motion filed with the Kansas Supreme Court, the agency says it needs to move quickly because residents are at “immediate risk” due to the “apparent insolvency” of Skyline Health Care, the New Jersey-based company that now operates the facilities.
KDADS is seeking to put the nursing homes in receivership so that it can contract with Mission Health Care to operate them along with the company’s 14 existing facilities.
The agency cites Skyline’s “inability to pay basic utilities, food service vendors and its approximately 950 employees” as evidence that it can’t continue to operate the homes safely.
“Consolidation (of cases) is the most effective way to protect the health, safety and welfare of these residents,” the agency said.
A spokesperson for the court said there is no timetable for a decision, but KDADS Secretary Tim Keck said he’s expecting one before the end of the week.
KDADS filed its motion for receivership on March 28, a few days after Skyline alerted the agency that it couldn’t meet its March 30 payroll or pay its utility and food vendors.
It wasn’t the first sign of financial problems. Checks written to cover fees paid by hospitals and nursing homes that get Medicaid dollars started bouncing in August. The company is currently $250,000 in arrears, according to court documents.
Skyline leases the homes it operates from Golden Living, LLC. In a response filed Tuesday with the Kansas Supreme Court, the Texas-based company said it wouldn’t oppose the state’s move to put the facilities under new management.
Cindy Luxem, president of the Kansas Healthcare Association, a nursing home lobbying group, said that Medicaid reimbursement issues that have created financial problems for some of her members weren’t the cause of Skyline’s troubles.
“They just didn’t have enough working capital,” Luxem said.
Luxem brokered meetings between Skyline and the managed care organizations that administer KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, and with KDADS officials. But, she said, KDADS declined the company’s request for an emergency rate increase.
Similar problems led Nebraska regulators to put a receiver in charge of all 21 Skyline facilities in that state on March 26 of this year.
Skyline’s Kansas facilities are located in Cottonwood Falls, Downs, Edwardsville, El Dorado, Eskridge, Lansing, Neodesha, Pittsburg, Spring Hill, Wakefield, Wellington, Wichita and Wilson.
Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.