Audit Reviews Charges for Veterans Homes

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Aug 17, 2010 No Comments ›› admin

August 17, 2010

Madison – Today the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau released their initial report on state veterans homes. The report confirmed concerns of Legislators that charges for the state-sponsored homes have been escalating and problems exist in the oversight of rate setting and fiscal management.

“Veterans and their spouses have been forced to leave state-run homes because of rate increases,” said Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), Co-Chair of the Joint Audit Committee. “But despite these high rates for some patients both nursing homes face financial challenges.”

Wisconsin operates two nursing homes for veterans; the Veterans Home at King in Waupaca County and the Veterans Home at Union Grove in Racine County. The audit shows from fiscal year (FY) 2004-05 through FY 2008-09, Union Grove had deficits in operations. The state projects net losses at both homes in FY 2010-11. State officials plan to open a third home in Chippewa Falls by the end of 2012.

The audit released today is the first phase of a comprehensive look at the finances and management of the nursing homes. The audit looks at how rates are set for nursing home and assisted living residents. The report found inconsistencies in the way the Department calculated rates and a dramatic escalation of rates in recent years for private pay residents.

“Our veterans have served their country and our state with honor and they deserve to receive the care they need for a price that is consistent and fair, which may only be possible by developing more efficient operations,” explained Co-Chairman Peter Barca (D-Kenosha). “Veterans and their spouses often live on a fixed income which requires stable rates, so that aging veterans aren’t forced out of these facilities because they cannot afford to stay.”

The audit found 2009 and 2010 rate increases ranged from 5% at King for skilled care to a 284.6% or $40,500 increase annually at Union Grove for assisted living care for spouses.

“We encourage the Board of Veterans Affairs to formalize the rules governing rate-setting at the homes, to provide greater guidance and clarity in the rules and to formally review and approve all rate-setting proposals,” Senator Vinehout stated. “The Board and the Department must work with veterans groups to make sure there are fair rates, a transparent process and provide for the long-term solvency of the homes.”

“Legislative oversight is needed to assure proper management. Before the state expands this program, we need to make sure what is running is running well. We look for the next phase of the audit, released later this year, to provide additional information about how to better serve our veterans and manage the state’s veterans homes,” Representative Barca concluded.

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