Financial Strugle Closes Large Medicaid Assisted Living Facility

Westchester Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas—the largest assisted-living facility for Medicaid recipients in the state announced in July it will close its doors after 19 years, and gave residents until Aug. 10 to find new living arrangements, according to the Associated Press over 100 people were affected by the closing.

The 12-story building, located at the center of Fort Worth’s medical district, has operated as an assisted living community since 1998. The facility has been advertised as “affordable luxury assisted living,” with each resident occupying a one-bedroom apartment.

The age and size of the building have caused regulatory and financial challenges.

The nonprofit controlled by Sweeney, WGH Heritage, reported a more than $2 million deficit in its most recent tax filing; the organization also reported multi-million dollar deficits in 2014 and 2013.
The company faced even more financial struggles beforehand, as it defaulted on its loans and had to reconstruct $20 million in debt backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In 2014, a deal fell through between the company and Irvine, California-based real estate investment trust which had plans of buying the property to build a $108.6 million combined residential/commercial development in its place.

Despite the selling point of “affordable luxury assisted living,” the facility faced operational issues as it was handed a lawsuit based on complaints that it did not have a proper sprinkler system for eight months in 2012, according to Tarrant County district clerk records. As a result, WGH Heritage shelled out $30,000 in civil penalties to the Texas attorney general’s office to settle the suit.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services also investigated complaints against the facility in 2012. Most recently, state regulators investigated a complaint in March, finding that the facility had “failed to follow its internal policies regarding the prevention, detection and reporting of abuse, neglect or exploitation.”

According to a press release, “Despite the ballooning population of low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities, the number of Medicaid-assisted living providers in Texas has steadily declined due to low reimbursement rates, changes in process management of the Medicaid Waiver program, and expansion of alternative entitlement programs”. The release also stated that Westchester Plaza property management would be helping residents find relocation with the help of local groups and “Managed Care Organizations contracted to manage the Star+Plus Medicaid Waiver program.

Medicaid cuts in the healthcare bill proposals could be brutal for people living in nursing homes

Is this the future of Medicaid funded Nursing Home and Assisted Living in America?

The New York Times reports that 42% of Medicaid spending goes to services like nursing home care. Cutting spending in the program would hit the elderly, or put pressure on nursing home operators to cut back. That rollback in Medicaid funding could particularly hit one unexpected group of people: elderly people living in nursing homes.

Even though elderly Americans get medical coverage from Medicare — that program doesn't automatically cover long-term stays in nursing homes. For the most part, people pay out of pocket for nursing homes. Once that gets depleted, residents start to qualify for Medicaid to cover their stay.

Westchester Plaza residents must move out 

Medicaid covers more than 74 million Americans, including low-income people, families, and kids, as well as pregnant women, people with disabilities, and the elderly. The New York Times detailed the impact of Medicaid cuts on nursing home care in a story , and reports that — even though they only make up 6% of all Medicaid enrollees — those who use long-term services like nursing homes account for about 42% of total Medicaid spending.

Cuts to Medicaid spending could put those services on the chopping block.

"Moms and kids aren’t where the money is," Damon Terzaghi, senior director at the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities told The Times. "If you’re going to cut that much money out, it’s going to be coming from older people and people with disabilities."

If you are helping a parent or another loved one or friend downsize before a move - be patient. Stop and think “What if it was me? How would I feel about emptying out my nest?”

When my aunt was getting up in years it became apparent that living alone in her house was no longer a good thing. She was not really sick, it was more of a financial burden for her to keep her house and the neighborhood she lived in was getting to be more dangerous for someone living alone. With the help of my mother the decision was made for her to move into a subsidized senior apartment building. She did not have a large house, but still it was a big downsize for her.

I was young at the time and so I volunteered to help her go through everything and I do mean everything in her house so she could pack up what she wanted to take and say good by to the rest.

Thank heavens I was a patient person. I remember going room by room, drawer by drawer, closet by closet sorting and sorting every scrap of paper, every plastic bag every stack of paper. Well I thought it would never end.

We cannot take all our STUFF with us, so how do we decide?

So here’s the thing. Older folks and probably many younger ones too collect a lot of Stuff. When we live in the same place for any length of time we, like birds fill our nests with thousands of bits and pieces of STUFF. Whether it’s books, papers, clothes, nick knacks, food, whatever we have lots of STUFF! This holds true for the majority of the population with the exception of those who are minimalists like my sister in law (she does not even have a junk drawer) who doesn’t have a junk drawer or 10?

Keep Sell or Donate

For those of us who are younger, when we decide to move what do we do? We load up dozens and dozens of boxes with all our STUFF! We don’t take time to sort it all out ( at least most don’t ) we just shove it in a box label it “Office” and load it on the van, only to be unloaded at our new digs and shoved back in the drawers from whence it came. And so the process goes each time we move, from the time we leave our parents home untill the time we find ourselves old and have to relocate to a smaller nest.

Now you see this move is not like the others. We cannot take all our STUFF with us. But how do we decide? Our nest has been so comfortable for so long, how will we live without ALL our STUFF? It’s hard let me tell you. And the older you are the harder it is. I worked with my aunt helping her sort through her stuff for over a month. Some days it was painstakingly slow. We would perhaps get through only a dresser or a closet. I watched as she handled each and every item she owned and had to make the choice, take or abandon. I could see how hard it was for her. Things that I thought were meaningless seemed so important to her. In my heart I knew I had to let her make the decisions and could not rush her to much. We finally got through everything in the house and boxed up the things she was taking with her only to find, it was to much. So we had to pare it down a bit more. The move went smoothly and soon she was settled in her new nest surrounded by the things she has chosen as most important to her. She lived in that apartment for several years until the time came when she had to move to a nursing home. This move was very different as she had developed dementia and so now it was my mother and I deciding what she could take. That was very hard, but in the end we chose the things we thought would bring her a sense of home, photos, a favorite clock, a little purse to keep some odds and ends in. I think we chose wisely, she seemed happy and this move meant getting rid of most of her stuff, that was a sad day.

In the end I learned some very valuable lessons.

Giving up our STUFF is hard and with all the other things older folks may have already lost like their independence, their home, their car, their health, and now this….it only adds to their pain.

Downsizing before you are forced to do so is a good thing. Perhaps we should all take a look around as I am right now. Look at all the STUFF we have. Do I need to thin it out a bit? Maybe 5 junk drawers is enough instead of 10 or maybe pare it down to 1!

We load up dozens and dozens of boxes with all our STUFF!

In the end things aren’t what mean the most in life. I know it’s cliché but family, friends, relationships that is what matters in life, all the rest is just fluff.

So if you are helping a parent or another loved one or friend downsize be patient. Stop and think “what if it were me” how would I feel about emptying out my nest . That will help you help them though this very tough and often painful process.

Have you helped someone downsize? I’d love to hear about your experience and how you survived the process. We are on this journey together and learn from each other so please feel free to share. Make a comment.

Until Next Time

Nancy

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