Kansas has taken over 21 financially failing nursing homes this year, though state officials have no desire to be in this business.
They had little choice because corner-cutting out-of-state investors running these homes with more of an interest in profits than in health care have become increasingly common. At the same time, these facilities now receive far less in reimbursements.
State lawmakers do have a choice, though: They can and should find a way to fund programs that help older Kansans stay in their homes longer.
Yes, that would save money in the long run. But more importantly, the elderly people we all hope to become someday deserve these services.
The shortage and uneven distribution of nursing home beds in certain areas in the state are bound to grow more acute as the population ages.
(And psst, you know who votes? Older Americans do, quite reliably.)
Nursing homes across the country are having a hard time staying in business, for one thing because privatized Medicare Advantage plans limit the length of the post-hospital rehab stays that for a time made the nursing home business highly profitable.
In Kansas, the problem is even more serious.
Medicaid does pay for long-term nursing home beds for elderly and disabled people who can’t afford to pay out of pocket.
But as The Star has reported, Kansas nursing homes have for years faced long delays in getting Medicaid applications approved. One issue is that when the state privatized the application processing system, it started doing all approvals out of one office in Topeka.
And even when they finally get an approval for a resident, nursing homes haven’t been getting anything close to timely payments from KanCare since the state contracted out all Medicaid services to three private companies.
Lawmakers ought to respond now, instead of continuing to be surprised that the care of already vulnerable older Kansans is being compromised.