Champaign County Nursing Home
County voters in April 2017 approved the sale of the Nursing Home in an advisory referendum and rejected a proposal for another increase in property taxes to support Nursing Home operations.
On the site of the former County Poor Farm, the Champaign County Nursing Home has served the public since the 1930’s. As recently as 2002 the County Nursing Home had a higher proportion of private pay patients and a lower proportion of Medicaid patients than any private nursing home in the county.
Although it was once considered the best in the county, it has steadily lost ground to private nursing homes. Unable to manage it with county staff, the County Board hired a series of outside management firms to run the facility and help it compete in today’s market.
However, despite years of increasing support from county taxpayers (County Nursing Home buildings have been paid for by taxpayers, approved by referendum, and, unlike private nursing homes, it does not pay property taxes or income taxes), the county facility has required increasing tax subsidies to cover its operating costs. This growing demand for more financial aid threatens the over-all finances of the county. The County struggles to pay for mandated services and find ways to pay for public demands for better funding for mental health and new programs such as reducing jail recidivism.
Delays in Medicaid reimbursements by the state have made the situation worse.
County voters in 2003 approved a special property tax to cover pension costs for Nursing Home employees. However, the growth of that revenue has not kept pace with the ever-increasing operating losses.
The county nursing home was rated as a below average facility by U.S. News and World Report in February 2017.
The County Nursing Home employs roughly 200 people. No one wants to destroy 200 jobs or to reduce the number of Medicaid beds available.
Opponents of the sale are motivated by concern for the employees and a deep commitment to the ideal of a publicly-run institution as inherently more focused on good care rather than profit.
Proponents of a sale argue that the best way to save the jobs, keep the Medicaid beds available, avert financial disaster for the county and recover some of the public funds would be to sell to a private operator.
The County Board voted in May 2018 to approve selling to the one private operator that bid. All Republicans voted in favor. Democrats split: five in favor and six opposed.
The state agency responsible for evaluating sales of public nursing homes to private operators will hold a public hearing September 13 on whether the sole bidder should be allowed to complete the purchase.