Earlier this month, hundreds of Whatcom County seniors received a letter in the mail from PeaceHealth informing them that the Adult Day Health Center (ADHC) will be closing by December 31st. The ADHC provides services to Whatcom seniors suffering from Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and a whole host of other disabilities.
In the letter, Chief Administrative Officer Dale Zender blamed the Affordable Care Act for the cuts:
Lower volumes over the past three years (2% drops each year, totaling $10-million), the Affordable Care Act, reimbursement challenges with fewer privately insured patients, and the costs of implementing electronic medical records (required by the ACA/Obamacare), have created huge financial challenges.
The letter goes on to suggest that current patients will receive care from the Lynden’s Christian Health Care Center (CHCC).
One problem, the CHCC had no idea that this was happening. When concerned families contact CHCC, they said that they would not be able to handle new patients until May 2015 when their new facility opens and even then, they will not be able to help all the patients that used the ADHC. Furthermore, the journey to north county is difficult for seniors struggling with ongoing disabilities, leaving hundreds without services.
Concerned family members met with Zender on August 13th to express their concerns and outrage. Zender placed the blame on budget woes from the Affordable Care Act – saying that less people are seeking expensive hospital treatment since they now have insurance to seek preventative and palliative care earlier in illness.
The ADHC program is funded through patient costs and subsidized by PeaceHealth for around $100-$150 thousand a year (according to Zender). As a reminder, PeaceHealth (which owns seven hospitals in the Pacific Northwest) reported an annual revenue of $1.64 billion and profit of $112.2 million in fiscal year 2011.
In the meeting with family members, Zender refused to extend the program until May 2015 when the CHCC opens. Zender did say that he would ask the PeaceHealth foundation if they may be willing to provide some staff support for motivated patients who wished to start organizing for a new facility.
Mayor Linville recently praised PeaceHealth when she refused to sign an ordinance that would tax them at the standard non-profit rate (rather than not taxing them at all since they were classified as a religious organization). Linville refused to support the tax because, “of the amount of uncompensated care the hospital provides for our community.”
PeaceHealth has also struggled with coming to fair terms with their caregivers. More coverage of this struggle to come next week.