Group Advocating For Nursing Home Reform Rallies At State Capitol
OKLAHOMA CITY - A group advocating for nursing home reform delivered letters to Governor Kevin Stitt’s office demanding an investigation into, what they call, a nursing home scandal.
This year, the federal government rejected a plan that would have brought in an additional $275 million to the state’s nursing homes, citing city ownership of multiple nursing homes. According to the reform group A Perfect Cause, Oklahoma is the only state in the country that allows cities to own more than one nursing home.
In the rejection letter, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said, "the state has not explained how the cities' involvement in the operations of multiple nursing homes is efficient or economical."
In a statement to News 9, the governor’s office said, “the Upper Payment Limits proposal was submitted under the previous administration and denied by the federal government, meaning no action was taken. Governor Stitt’s top focus in this administration is delivering government accountability and ensuring resources are supporting those in our state who need it the most. This is why he called for an audit of Medicaid in March and why he is working with key stakeholders to provide Oklahoma with a strong plan for healthcare moving forward.”
A Perfect Cause founder Wes Bledsoe said cities that own homes across the state including, Pauls Valley, Hugo, Medford, Fredrick and Sapulpa got greedy ahead of the infusion of additional federal dollars and tried to acquire as many homes as they could, with the State Department of Health charging a mere $10 fee to obtain city nursing home licenses.
“It certainly wasn’t about protecting the people of Oklahoma,” Bledsoe said. “It was all about the money.”
The group’s letter targeted one of Stitt’s campaign promises, saying “Oklahoma is far from a top ten state, as it consistently ranks among the worst states for nursing home care. This ranking directly represents the needless suffering and deaths of thousands of Oklahomans each year.”
Bledsoe said the best way to root out problems is for an investigation into the municipal owners, out of town operators and the state departments that oversee the homes.