Posted by: sweeneyblog | August 30, 2014

PeaceHealth Slashes Services for Vulnerable Senior, Blames ACA

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.

CAO Dale Zender from PeaceHealth

CAO Dale Zender from PeaceHealth

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.

PeaceHealth St. Joseph made over $40 million last year

PeaceHealth St. Joseph made over $40 million last year

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.

Their Whatcom branch generated over $39 million in profit in 2012 and their hospitals throughout the region show similar results.

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 caregiversMore coverage of this struggle to come next week.




  1. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Riley. What amazing logic gymnastics on, How we can’t make enough millions if we have to take care of people!

    • Your right your illogical gymnastics are amazing. Only a Liberal/Prog could divine that.

  2. Corporatist logic – the adult day care is not profitable and so they dropped it. Need the money to extend their empire by purchasing other hospitals – eg. United General in Skagit. I guess the new PH management will be cutting services in Skagit, also.

    • Wrong, it became a loser because of the low reimbursement rate of the ACA. Certainly, you can’t expect them to stay in business if they are losing money a la GM.

      • Evidence? Data? Wayne this outfit made a surplus of 120 million last year. You really believe that the reimbursement from the ACA will eliminate the whole thing and then some? I call BS. I really question the motivation of Peace health in cutting this program – is it punishment? I mean, how mad are they about having to pay taxes like everybody else?

  3. The term Non-Profit shouldn’t really be used to describe an ordinary business model since profit under any other name still motivates its decisions and direction and in large part,
    the wealth of its upper management.
    Adding PeaceHealth to the B&O tax rolls was certainly justified and
    The Honorable Mayor’s flimsy whimsey excuse for her symbolic refusal to sign off on the thing looks even sillier now.
    What every billion dollar corporation needs is a fan who lives in their imaginary glorious past as a way to shirk their duties and excuse their present behavior.

    • You conveniently forgot that Peace Health eats millions of dollars of losses every year because of people who do not/can’t pay and the declining Medicare reimbursement rate.

      • But they still managed to eke out a meagre profit of $120 million despite all the oldtimers, widows, and orphans making undue demands on their generosity.

      • Profit is everything left over at the bottom of the ledger.

  4. How shameful. Blaming the ACA when it was a compromise for the Health Care Industry. If CAO Zender were blaming the ACA because it didn’t go far enough, I would have at least a grudging respect for him.

    • Why just “grudging”. Do you automatically begrudge anyone who earns an honest dollar today? Do they have to be on the dole to earn your respect? I guess you give all the food you grow for FREE. How commendable!

  5. Is this actually an “opportunity”? They seem to think they can just refer their “clients” to the Lynden facility without even telling them! Ridiculous! But, maybe there is a business in the county that will see the opportunity to start a new care facility mimicking the one that is closing. A nonprofitable Nonprofit start-up should be encouraged by the health community. There is obviously a need for it. Innovate!

  6. Riley,

    If you read your quote again you will find that Mr. Zender was (is) correct. Talk with any hospital administrator in the country and they will say the same thing.

    The SOLE purpose of the ACA is to collapse our healthcare system, drive the health insurance companies out and then set up a single payer system like the UK (which has been a total failure). Bring on the Death Panels [sarc].

  7. Wayne, the sole purpose of the Affordable Care Act is and was to extend more Corporate welfare–this time to insurance companies. It astounds me that you don’t understand this. Yes, it is keeping the rise in health care costs in check for the first time in a very long time and squeezing obscene provider profits, but it has brought millions of new customers to the insurance companies. Why do you resist Obama when he kowtows to private industry??? He is far to the right of Nixon for one.

    • Well put Bob.

    • Bob,

      It astounds be that you don’t understand that Obama extending “corporate welfare to the insurance companies” is/was just a temporary carrot to get the rabbit out of the hutch so that Obama could kill ii by instituting a Single Payer after the system collapsed.

      This is stage one of the process NOT the end game. The insurance companies are DEAD MEAT, long-term and some of them know it already. Watch them slowly pull out of marketplace one by one when the realize the numbers do NOT work under Obamacare.

      Nixon turned out to be a big government Liberal-EPA (1970), OSHA (1970), admitted to being a Keynesian (1971), devalues the dollar (1972), increased SS taxes (1972) and Wage & Price Controls (1973). Obama is a Marxist to the core. His parents were both Marxists, their friends were Marxists, his mentor Frank Marshall Davis was a Marxist, Obama’s friends in his youth were Marxists and many of his associates, staff, etc. are Marxists.

      Try to delve beneath the surface in the future, there is a whole new world out there.

      • I tried to delve beneath the surface, but the world I found was filled with make believe and paranoia in which everything was adjusted to fit preconceptions,

        I wish that Obama were astute enough to have planned the Affordable Care Act’s “failure” as the pathway to universal tax-based coverage. But he is not a very good strategist.

    • “Try to delve beneath the surface in the future, there is a whole new world out there.”

      And be sure to wear your tinfoil delving helmet!

      • Now, now let’s keep this civil or Riley will upset with you Camp David.

      • You should always delve sagely and safely. Hence, wear a helmet!

        This message brought to you as a civic service. Although I like Bob’s answer better.

  8. Hi Riley, This is great that you are covering this issue; thanks so much! Jayne Freudenberger and I are the tow who met with Dale Zender and who gave you this info a week ago. One correction: there are currently 78 folks who are attending the ADH program. Certainly hundreds, if not thousands, of Whatcom County residents have received these services over its 37 years of operating though. Also, Dale Zender brought up the recent City Council decision to tax PH as another factor in their decision to cut the ADH program. Betsy Gross

    Sent from my iPhone


  9. Everyone is ignoring the comment at the end of the article, which adds the fact that Peace Health is struggling to deal with the SEIU caregivers union, which will proved Obamacare coverage to non-citizens who often seek employment as care givers.

    That is your reason, right there, too much unionization, which would increase the costs of the program.

    • Donna, I’m afraid you are incorrect. First of all, “Obamacare coverage” – Obamacare does not provide coverage unto itself, it is a marketplace where people can purchase insurance from private companies. SEIU caregivers union does not decide who they hire – that is up to Peacehealth – finally Unionization does not increase the costs of the program, it ensures that the people who are healing our sick are paid a fair wage.

      • Do you really believe all that?

        You are hereby banned from the pot store until further notice.

  10. Peace Health = Fleece Health?

    Abe Jacobson

    • I will remind them of your quote when you check in at the emergency room next time. 🙂

  11. Bob Burr,

    Actually it was Obama and his inner circle who followed the Cloward-Piven Strategy of orchestrated Crisis in designing Obamacare..

  12. […] comes on the heels of announcements that PeaceHealth will shut down their adult day care center because of “huge financial challenges” according to Chief Administrative Officer Dale […]

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