There appears to be a widespread misperception among activists, advocates, and legislators regarding nursing home reform in Kansas. It is widely believed that Kansas Senate Bill 15, signed into law by Governor Kelly, would somehow significantly improve the quality of care by keeping rotten apples out of the system. However, the system is comprised of rotten apples and the legislation touted as the answer to metastasized rottenness will not change that one iota.
What SB 15 does is this: (1) Requires evidence that applicants for a license have sufficient capital to operate for one year, (2) Submit a one-year operating budget, and (3) List all nursing home operations in which they have or have had an interest. Current bad actors and future bad actors such as Life Care Centers, the Ensign Group, and most of the other providers will have no problem meeting the capital requirements. Furthermore, their history and past and current operations are no big secret.
What long-term care corporations want to keep secret is their excessive extraction of Medicare and Medicaid funding on behalf of investors – at the expense of patients. We need financial transparency, but the industry will plant its feet and go to the wall with advocates and activists over an open look at financial statements (except for the few publicly held corporations required to file financial reports with the Securities & Exchange Commission). Furthermore, state agencies with licensing and monitoring responsibilities have become industry doormats. Therefore, the industry and regulatory agencies teamed up to trick Kansans into believing that some real reform has been enacted.
Anyone who doubts what I’m saying should check inspection reports on Nursing Home Compare. Begin with the Life Care Center facility at Andover, Kansas, a facility so substandard that it doesn’t rate a one on NHC (it is a “special focus facility”). The neglect and cruelty cited in the report will make you extremely mad – want to cry, scream, and kick things. The inspection was dated July 7, 2020. There is no follow up discussed and no change in status. But Life Care Centers (mainly its sole owner, multi-billionaire Preston Brooks) is still receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding for the Andover facility.
SB 15 was initiated by the industry, i.e., the Kansas Health Care Association. The Skyline scandal was an embarrassment for the industry and agency toadies giving Joseph Schwartz licenses for 15 Kansas facilities. They didn’t do due diligence and provided licenses to an unsavory character with a felony record. He committed more crimes by pocketing deductions from employee paychecks for health care. Eventually, his theft of funding meant for patient care left all 15 facilities insolvent. SB 15 is a ruse initiated by KHCA lobbyist Cindy Luxem and endorsed by the Kansas Department of Aging & Disability Services. The public is lulled into believing that the act will result in real reform when in fact it is meaningless.
There has been no evidence that Schwartz didn’t have the capital required by SB 15. Based on over $150 million in defaulted loans I have found, I believe he was sufficiently capitalized. There have also been no indictment and prosecution of Schwartz even though he deducted pay from his employees for health insurance and never bought the insurance. I think Kansas wants the whole Skyline scandal to go away. It is so sad that so much of the rest of the country has bought into the state’s faux reform.