The critics have been loud, but one official says cities like Pauls Valley that acquired the licenses to nursing homes in the hope of someday helping local healthcare had nothing to do with any claims of poor treatment for residents of those facilities.
Instead, Eddie Parades of the Stonegate company in Texas, which has managed some of the homes connected to the city of Pauls Valley, points to a low level of federal reimbursements as the real culprit for any allegations that residents have received poor quality of care or even been mistreated.
Parades is talking about PV being among a handful of towns in Oklahoma getting the licenses to nursing homes in the state as a way of pursing a federal program, the Nursing Facility Upper Payment Limit program, which is better known simply as UPL.
The program is meant to provide additional Medicaid monies to qualifying nursing homes to be used to help residents of those facilities and the healthcare needs of participating cities like Pauls Valley.
However, the UPL program has never been approved for Oklahoma as Pauls Valley’s city council recently voted to revert some of its licenses back to the nursing home owners.
With that in mind Parades says any claims by critics the program is hurting the residents of nursing homes with licenses held by towns like PV is absolute nonsense.
“To blame the UPL program for the quality of care is foolish,” Parades tells the PV Democrat.
“The UPL program never got off the ground. It never existed in Oklahoma.
“The quality of care is more about the Medicaid reimbursement level. When that’s high you have the money for staff, the quality staff that you need.”
He points to Oklahoma being the 48th lowest state in Medicaid reimbursements for nursing homes.
That, he says, means less money for highly qualified staff and quality care for residents of these homes.
As a result, Parades says any claims of poor quality or worse at some nursing homes in Oklahoma is more about the low reimbursement level in the state rather than who holds the licenses for the facilities.
“All of that is irrelevant and independent of the UPL program because it doesn’t exist in Oklahoma. It was never approved for this state.
“The quality of care didn’t get better and it didn’t get worse because of UPL,” he said.
On the bright side the money available to nursing homes has since turned around in a good way as just a few weeks ago those reimbursement levels got a 16 percent increase.
For that reason Parades says the level of care for residents in nursing homes should be better going forward.
“It’s helped nursing homes with the payment gaps. Now the Medicaid reimbursements are closer to the actual costs,” he said.
“We anticipate the quality will improve with this.”