By Roger Amsden
FOR THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The Belknap County Nursing Home is stepping up efforts to attract more residents who are on Medicare with an eye to boosting its revenues.
Interim County Nursing Home Administrator Bob Hemenway told member of the Belknap County Convention's Nursing Home Subcommittee last week that the nursing home receives $515 a day for Medicare residents and only $159 a day for residents who are on Medicaid.
He said that its costs the county around $300 a day per resident and that Medicare residents more than pay for those costs.
“We're getting a 50 percent profit from Medicare patients. That's why private nursing homes focus on attracting Medicare residents.” said Hemenway.
Rep. Valerie Fraser (R-New Hampton) asked “how do we increase the number of Medicare patients?” and Hemenway said that there has been an increase from last year to an average of eight Medicare residents per day compared to an average of 5.9 per day in 2015. The nursing home has 94 beds.
Belknap County Nursing Home Director of Nursing Diane Roberts said that the county is working to get the word out to hospital social workers about the quality of care provided by the county home, which has a high national ranking.
“We're trying hard to market ourselves,'' said Roberts, who said that some private homes are viewed as luxurious, making them difficult to compete with.
Hemenway said that there were things that the county could do to improve its competitiveness.
“Look at the walls. Do they look like your home? They're cinder block,” he said, adding that one woman who was having trouble adjusting to the surroundings asked “Why am I in jail?”
He said that improving the walls and having curtains rather than blinds in the windows were some inexpensive things the county can do to make its rooms more attractive.
County Administrator Debra Shackett noted that while Medicaid patients cost the county a lot of money it is also one of the primary functions of the county to provide for their care.
County Commissioner Richard Burchell (R-Gilmanton), who was not at last week's meeting, recently told his fellow commissioners that one of the reasons for a drop in the county home's reimbursement rate of $6 a day was a 10 percent drop in the number of Medicaid patients in 2015 from what the county home had in 2014.
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