Thursday, June 14, 2012

WCCC Board Wrestling with Delinquent Bills

The Worth County Convalescent Center had a positive bottom line last month of $10,746, leaving them $12,833 in the black for this year. They anticipate approximately a $100,000 surplus when the property taxes come in this November.

However, the board is having an ongoing problem with bills that are over 90 days old. Currently, there are around $161,000 worth of bills that are 90 or more days old. "We're not being kept in the loop," said board member Kathy Miller. "We have been waiting 15 months for this information. We're looking at a huge amount of money. We have a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers to make decisions about our finances and we can't make these decisions about money without the proper information." The difficulty is that under patient confidentiality laws, certain information cannot be disclosed even to board members without the patients' permission. Some of the bills involve billing errors while others involve patients who are deceased. There are 24 residents at the facility, but there are 40 such accounts to deal with averaging around $4,000 each. Secretary Jozy Moyer thought that the oldest one was two years old. The facility sends out bills to the estate in the event of the death of a resident, but a difficulty arises if there is no estate to bill or if it closes.

"We all need to know what is going on," said board member Jeff Thummel. "It's not acceptable to write off $50,000 to $60,000 every year. I thought we put a policy in place to prevent this from happening," added Miller. At least four customers are paying off old debts. Part of the problem is that the bills are not classified as to whether they are private or Medicare. Board President Scott Houk said that he knew from experience that in billing the government, you had to get the codes exactly right or they would not pay. Houk agreed that they needed to be broken down into whether they were government or private. The board directed Administrator Karen Fletchall and Secretary Jozy Moyer to do so. Board member Anthony Steinhauser said that the danger was that the facility would develop a reputation for not collecting on bills, which would really hurt the bottom line.

Part of the problem is that it is difficult for Quickbooks to make these distinctions between government and private bills and that a lot of work has to be done by hand. Mike Schremf, from Denver, a visitor to the meeting, said that he had worked in the industry before retiring and that there was specialized billing software out there. He said that he worked at places where companies hired people whose sole job it was to fight for the money they were owed from Medicare. A few years ago, the board had looked into purchasing such software; however, the cost was around $12,000 to $15,000 for an outright purchase or several hundred dollars a month in lease payments.

The facility is looking into developing an assisted living wing, possibly on the west side closed off from the rest of the facility. Administrator Karen Fletchall said that she had been learning about the process and that they would have to notify the state of any major renovations that would be done. The land in question would possibly have to be appraised and there is a separate licensing process. It would need to have its own separate living and dining area and possibly its own laundry room. A new activity room would have to be set up, possibly in the main dining area. A lot of activities have been moved to the main dining area anyway so that residents won't have to travel as far. It may also affect the facility's respite care and day care services that they presently offer and that some people are using. The board and administration would need to decide whether to set up a two-room apartment style or one-bedroom wing or a combination of both.

Work is still progressing on the room in the east wing. The window still needs to come in; the countertop was scheduled to be delivered Friday. The plan is to complete the room by Friday, June 22nd. Other items on the renovation agenda include removing old air conditioner holes as well as pulling out excess shrubs which board members say have excessive growth and that get in the way.

The board approved a $20,000 life insurance policy for the 38 employees which are eligible. It will be provided by Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Equipment needs of the facility were discussed prior to doing the new budget for next year. A new lift for the bathroom, a new alarm call system which would replace the present one, and a new up to date exercise seat for the therapy room which both the occupational therapist and physical therapist could use were discussed.

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