Thursday, June 23rd, 2016
BOARD TO DELIBERATE ON FUTURE OPTIONS REGARDING THE COUNTY NURSING HOME
The Morris County Board of Freeholders has received an update report, including a detailed fiscal analysis, on the county’s Morris View Healthcare Center that finds taxpayer subsidies to continue to manage the facility will rise substantially over the next several years as revenues decline or stay flat and operating expenses increase.
The report, presented to the freeholders on Wednesday, is a follow-up to action taken by the Board of Freeholders at their March 23 meeting,
Consultant Perselay Associates, retained by the freeholders to do an “independent study’’ of Morris View, projects the tax-supported subsidy to run Morris View will rise from $6.8 million incurred in 2015 to $15.5 million by 2020.
The consultant found that a potential leasing option of Morris View, a 283-bed facility in Morris Township, to a private nursing home operator could be a viable solution to respond to the projected financial issues that are likely to impact Morris View, while also maintaining the high quality of care offered at Morris View.
The information compiled by Perselay Associates supplements a 2015 report by done for the county by consultants Marcus and Millichap. To view the reports, visit: Morris View Report 6.22.16 and https://morriscountynj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Morris-County-OOA.pdf
The new study includes a detailed fiscal analysis, a report on findings about county nursing homes in several other counties that have been sold to private owners, and also includes findings from a series of meetings held with the Morris View Advisory Committee and family members of patients at Morris View.
Family members, in those meetings, stressed that a high quality of care, including staff continuity, is their main concern.
The Board of Freeholders is expected to consider the latest findings, along with the previous Marcus and Millichaps report, in making a decision on Morris View. Marcus and Millichaps laid out three scenarios to the freeholders: Continued status quo county operation of the nursing home; sale of the facility; and leasing of the nursing beds while the county maintains ownership and maintenance of the facility.
The freeholders will hold public meeting on the report, to include an overview of the study, and to seek public questions and comments, at the Morris View Healthcare Center, 540 West Hanover Ave in Morris Township, on Wednesday, July 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
“I want to continue to stress that the freeholder board has not made any decision regarding the future of Morris View, and that we are continuing to move ahead in a responsible manner to review potential options for the county nursing facility,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo.
“We have continued to gather as much information as possible to guide any potential decisions. I want to again assure you that we are not going to do anything that should alarm patients and their families, nor the staff at Morris View.’’
The freeholders in March passed a resolution that directed the County Administration to pursue several initiative related to Morris View, including potential leasing of the facility to a health care company, but stressed that any such review be done in close coordination with families of patients, staff, and advocates for Morris View.
As part of that effort, the freeholders directed the Administrator to develop Morris View budget projections for the next several years to help them determine the likely financial impact of the nursing home on the county government budget and its expected impact on all taxpayers.
Importantly, the county governing board stated in the resolution that “it is not inclined to pursue the option of selling the facility.’’
The Perselay analysis found that imminent reductions in Medicaid reimbursements and the implementation of the state’s new Managed Medicaid system, which is already diverting some patients away from Morris View, would negatively impact revenues at Morris View.
Private nursing home operators, however, have more flexibility in dealing with these issues, including “far less bureaucratic restrictions’’ than public nursing home operators, the Perselay review found.
The 2015 budget for Morris View was $21 million, with $6.8 million paid by county taxpayers. Due to reductions in state and Medicaid funding, the cost to taxpayers in 2016 budget is expected to be $7 million to $8 million this year, and to continue to rise significantly in future years.
Since 2005, Morris County has commissioned independent consultants and experts to perform various analyses of the facility and make recommendations. They resulted in improved and more efficient and cost-effective operations at Morris View.
Resultant changes have included outsourcing of housekeeping, laundry, dietary, security, dietary management and other services, plus an increase in census and Medicare A revenues, and implementation of management efficiencies. Yet, even with these positive changes, the county remains challenged by the rising costs of long-term health care, the Perselay study found.