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Grand Village Worried About Proposed Changes to Reimbursements

Updated: May 16, 2019 08:02 PM

Grand Village has been serving Itasca County for more than 120 years. The nursing home near Hale Lake is owned by the county, which has become a rare thing across the state. About 270 people clock in there, to take care of patients in their long-term care, memory care, or short term rehab areas.

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When WDIO stopped by, you could feel a sense of happiness and hope there. It might have been the birds, some of which live inside in a special exhibit. Or the dog, Brier, who comes with the dietitian each day.

They've made big investments in the past several years, when the legislature changed the reimbursement system. The additional money went into wages and benefits, plus training.

"They asked us to invest in ourselves, and then we'd be paid back in the future. But now, with the proposed changes, we may not see it all come back," explained Chris Reed, chair of the Board at Grand Village.

At the capital, a bill would change the reimbursement system again, which could lead to lower reimbursements for some, like Grand Village.

The executive director, Kyle Hedlund, added, "We hope Governor Walz and our legislators won't pursue the changes. It's estimated that it will mean a $68 million dollar cut for nursing homes in Minnesota. And when you factor in federal matching and other dollars, that's really more like $200 million in cuts."

Hedlund said the proposed changes wouldn't affect all facilities the same. But Grand Village is looking at $70,000 less in funding in 2020, if the bill becomes law. The potential losses are even bigger down the road.

Josh Cagle, a CNA and restorative therapist, has been at Grand Village for nearly five years. He's seen the high turnover stop, in part because of higher wages and because of the Primary Peer Mentor program. He's a mentor, and helps guide new staff as they transition into what can be a difficult job.

"If everybody is on the same page, things go smoother, and it makes for happier residents on a more constant basis. Plus we use our training to help educate the new staff, because the rules are always changing and we need to stay in compliance," Cagle shared.

Rep. Jen Schultz, of Duluth, is one of the authors of the bill. She told WDIO in an email that the bill does not reduce the level of reimbursement, but reduces the rate of growth. She added, "The rate of growth was exceptionally high. It lead to an increase of administrative costs, and at the same time, quality did not improve." 

Grand Village disagrees, saying their quality has improved. "It's wonderful to see the community build here," Reed said.

Nothing is final yet, as the bill is still being hammered out in budget negotiations.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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