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Rural hospitals stop Medi-Cal cuts to nursing facilities

Samantha P. Hawthorne
Staff Writer

The dedicated efforts of the California Hospital Association, along with rural hospitals and the communities that support them, contributed to stopping the Medi-Cal cuts that would ultimately close distinct-part skilled nursing facilities in rural areas.

Among the many outcries made by those against the cuts, a September rally in Sacramento marked the final attempt to end the cuts.

“We really worked hard at getting the community aware of the impact cuts would make,” said Seneca Healthcare Chief Executive Officer Linda Wagner. “The rally was just one small piece in all of the things we did to get this resolved.”

Wagner was one of many who attended the rally.

The three-year battle to stop the 10 percent decrease in Medi-Cal payments ended successfully at the end of September and resulted in the continued operation of rural skilled nursing facilities, including Seneca’s SNF.

The SNFs affected have returned to charging the higher reimbursed rates that were used two years ago. The increase will not affect patients, but will affect the amount Medi-Cal pays on their behalf.

Hospitals continue to work on putting a stop to the retroactive clawback that Medi-Cal is requesting, which will constitute an annual 5 percent payback to the Medicaid program.

If the clawback is not stopped, Seneca will have to pay Medi-Cal $800,000 in increments until it is paid off.

Wagner said hospitals would take a big hit if the payback goes forward. She said, in the meantime, Seneca’s SNF is open and doing great. It is still a five-star facility and currently has 15 out of 16 beds filled.


Celebration of life

The celebration of life for former Seneca Healthcare District Director of Finance Cheryl Darnell has been rescheduled from Oct. 11 to Oct. 25.

Seneca is hosting the celebration in honor of Darnell’s wish that people contemplate how blessed they are to be living, and rather than honor her passing, celebrate her life.

Wagner said Darnell hated funerals and wanted the community to party instead of mourn for her.

To acknowledge her love of NASCAR, the celebration will have a Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR theme. A potluck will be the center of the celebration, which will be held at the Almanor Basin Community Resource Center from noon to 2 p.m.

Anyone who would like to join the celebration is welcome to attend. Community members are encouraged to bring a dish for the potluck.


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