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September 26, 2013

Possible rate hike at Manor

By Joe Mahoney The Daily Star
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Otsego County officials are considering a plan that would increase the amount that Otsego Manor patients who pay for their own stays at the county-owned nursing home pay by approximately $25 a day.

The current private pay rate at the 174-bed Manor is $250 a day.

The plan under consideration, proposed by the Manor’s new administrator, Kurt Apthorpe, would bring that daily rate to $275. The proposal would also provide the residents with telephone and cable television services without charging them separately for those amenities, as is done now, officials said.

County Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, the chairwoman of the Manor Committee, said the daily rate for the Manor’s private pay patients has remained unchanged since 2004.

“It’s reasonable to have an increase after nine years without one because things have gone up dramatically,” she said in an interview.

Officials said Apthorpe is projecting that increasing the rate to $275 per day would yield an estimated $186,000 a year in revenue.

The private pay residents are those who do not qualify for Medicaid.

Residents pay $8 per month for cable television and $15 a month for phone service. The proposed increase was first discussed this week at the Manor Committee’s monthly meeting, and is expected to be acted on by the panel at an emergency meeting this morning. However, if the proposal advances, it will likely need the approval of the full Board of Representatives.

“Since there has been no increase in the private pay rate for many years, it was the feeling of the committee that because costs keep accelerating that this increase was only fair,” said Acting County Treasurer Russ Bachman.

The proposed increase comes at a time when the county is facing a multi-million budget deficit, much of it driven by the public subsidy that the county provides to the Manor. The county representatives have formed a local development corporation charged with selling the Manor to a private health care provider. Ten parties, including Bassett Medical Center, have signaled that they plan to submit proposals detailing how much they would pay and how they would operate the facility if they purchase it.

Stuligross, who is also the chairwoman of the Otsego County Health Care Facilities Corp., said the suitors for the nursing home have displayed “a very high interest” in acquiring it.

The deadline for proposals is Sept. 27, and the field of parties planning to submit a proposal could grow to 11 by then, she noted.