Crista Shores hit by state Medicaid cuts

Crista Shores, a Silverdale elder care facility, will get $28,000 less from the state Legislature this year.

But that’s just one of Executive Director Glen Melin’s worries.

Crista’s liability insurance costs have tripled and employee insurance is up $30,000.

In all, Crista Shores will have to make due with $138,000 less than last year, according to Melin.

The facility, located at the corner of Mickelberry and Bucklin Hill roads, has 125 independent living rooms for senior citizens and 50 assisted living beds, 16 of which are reserved for Medicaid clients, Melin said. It is the only assisted care facility in Central Kitsap which accepts Medicaid clients.

Crista Shores’ total budget is $4 million, but the cuts will disproportionately affect Medicaid patients, Melin said. The facility charges non-Medicaid clients $88 per day. Medicaid now will cover $60.23, less than Crista’s costs to care for these clients and $4.77 per day less than last year.

The legislative cut came in the form of a “capital add-on reduction” and targeted assisted-living facilities at which less than half of the residents are on Medicaid.

Gayle Helseth-Kenison, the long-term care ombudsman for Kitsap County, said the move could further reduce the dwindling number of assisted-living Medicaid spaces in the county.

“We need more Medicaid beds in assisted living, and this action is likely to lose us beds. That’s my concern — they got is backwards,” Helseth-Kenison said.

The funding reduction leaves several options for the non-profit Crista Shores, Melin said, but none are desirable. The organization could reduce staffing, defer capital costs and maintenance or make private-pay residents pick up the slack for the Medicaid shortfall.

“We’ll do everything we can not to decrease staffing, so it will affect the other areas. We are budgeting to lose money next year,” Melin said.

State Rep. Phil Rockefeller D-Bainbridge Island, said the reduction was one of “hundreds if not thousands” made in response to a $1.5 billion state budget shortfall. But he said the decision did not represent a policy change.

“The state’s goal is to provide the most appropriate care for the individual,” Rockefeller said.

Gov. Gary Locke’s original budget trimmed all assisted care facilities, Rockefeller said, and the Legislature tried to limit the cutbacks.

Helseth-Kenison called the move illogical. The Legislature made no cuts to nursing homes, where per-patient costs are roughly double those of assisted care facilities.

The move might also deter for-profit firms from accepting Medicaid clients out of fear of more cuts, Helseth-Kenison added.

Crista Shores is owned by the Shoreline-based Crista Ministries. The non-profit, non-denominational Christian ministry also owns King’s West School and the Island Lake Camp and Conference Center.

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