Of Bake Sales and Nursing Homes Not Saved

On Thursday, Governor Dan McKee appeared on The News with Gene Valicenti for an “Ask the Governor” segment on WPRO.  (No podcast to link to.)  During the segment, while rattling off accomplishments of the just-passed state budget, Governor McKee said

… nursing homes, which we basically have saved …

An interesting statement.  In fact, six nursing homes in Rhode Island have closed since 2020 and a seventh, the well-rated Linn Health & Rehabilitation, announced about a month ago that it would be closing.  Add to that three that declared bankruptcy in 2023.

In a call to the Tara Granahan Show on WPRO that same morning, Richard Gamache, CEO of Aldersbridges Communities, the non-profit parent company of Linn Health & Rehabilitation, clarified what the governor and General Assembly had done – added $10M for nursing homes to the state budget effective July 1 – and the impact.

It’s not enough to save – I mean, it’s like, it’s something and I’m sure nursing homes, everybody’s grateful for it.  But it’s certainly not enough to save.

Gamache elaborated,

Those are the three things that the governor did.  Suspending the fines, $10M ARPA funds in the budget and then the re-array October 1.  But all of those things are too little too late. And I know that, from conversations with my peers, Linn is not going to be the last nursing home to give notice; that there are others that are on the brink and that this is going to continue.  We will continue to see the collapse of post-acute care in the state of Rhode Island.  We don’t prioritize elder care and we have a high percentage of elders in Rhode Island.  And we have to …we need to think of ourselves as, we could be a model here in the state of Rhode Island.  There are things we could do and change the system, become a model.  But right now, post acute care is a mess.

In an August op-ed, Matthew R. Trimble, President & CEO of Saint Elizabeth Community, supplied the hard numbers for Rhode Island’s nursing homes which confirm the trajectory that Gamache warns about.

The cost of providing care rose 30% between 2019-2022, according to our estimates. During that same time, Medicaid reimbursement rates rose only 4.7%.

Meanwhile, on the state spending front, Rhode Island officials are pressing ahead at this point with state participation in, as well as re-directing federal funds to, an absurdly expensive residential conversion project in Providence and a non-essential (understatement) sports stadium in Pawtucket with a price tag marked up 500% due to interest.

These are the more high profile but certainly not the only instances of dubious state spending; e.g., why does the replacement to the Washington Bridge have to be an epic bridge of a lifetime, to paraphrase Governor McKee, with double the lifespan?  Wouldn’t a regular, serviceable bridge do us just fine? Less costly and faster to build.  And is every state-dollar-funded item in the just-passed budget more important than a home and care for beloved seniors?

Important to note that the quizzical spending and non-spending raised in this article is not solely on Governor McKee. It is very much a joint effort by the governor, the Speaker of the House, the Senate President and every Rhode Island legislator who voted for it. Additionally, nursing homes bear higher operating costs as a result of stepped up state mandates from the COVID era, as Matthew Trimble alluded to. Are all of these necessary now that the COVID-19 pandemic is over? Should these perhaps be looked at as part of a larger, though definitely not the entire, solution?

The featured image is of a bake sale that the residents of Linn Health & Rehabilitation held in December to try to save their care facility. Fast forward to Thursday; Gamache informed Granahan during their conversation that the last resident of Linn had been transferred on Wednesday.

To recast the expression slightly, Rhode Island needs to head to a place where nursing homes are properly funded and sports stadiums and profligate residential re-developments have to hold a bake sale.  And we need to head there quickly.  Contrary to his assertion Thursday, Governor McKee and the General Assembly have not saved Rhode Island’s nursing homes.  In fact, the domino effect on nursing homes of their inaction has started.

Featured image: the bake sale held in December by residents of the now-closed Linn Health and Recovery. From Linn’s website; re-printed with permission.

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Tom Letourneau
Tom Letourneau
23 days ago

Bottom Line? McKee is an Incompetent Idiot, totally Unqualified for the position he is in, just as he has been Unqualified for every previous position he has ever been in. Do you know how many private sector businesses he has bankrupted and run into the ground!!! The Historic Admiral Inn Restaurant and Banquet Facility… as but one example!!!

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