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Pennsylvania Sees Growing Trend in Selling County-Run Nursing Homes

In January, we blogged that Carbon County’s board of commissioners was putting the county-owned Weatherwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center up for sale. Now, a recent article on StandardSpeaker.com points out a pattern of unloading county-owned nursing homes as a way of reducing budget woes.

According to the article, 50 Pennsylvania counties once operated nursing homes; but that number has decreased to 31. Lackawanna County will close on the sale of the Lackawanna County Health Care Center in Olyphant on March 1. And Luzerne County began leasing its former nursing home, Valley Crest in Plains Township, to an outside agency back in 2006. However, Schuylkill County’s nursing home, Rest Haven in Schuylkill Haven, will remain in the hands of the county.

Because federal and state reimbursement payments for Medicare and Medicaid have decreased and operating costs continue to rise, county homes are not as financially self-sustainable as they once were. But some question whether the short-term gain is worth it.

“It’s a difficult decision. I think the jury is still out on the long-term effect it may have,” said Michael J. Wilt, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of County Affiliated Homes.

Compared to the county, private operators may be able to generate more revenue for the same services while still maintaining excellent care for residents. But Wilt is concerned with what could happen if private companies start to see a decrease in reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid in the future.

“Who will take care of the elderly, infirm and indigent when that happens?” said Wilt.

We’ll continue to follow this trend and hope that it is beneficial to residents, but only time will tell.