Many states and public hospitals and nursing homes are trying to make the most of a loophole in Medicaid law, which may soon be closed, that allows states to boost their federal Medicaid matches. But one Virginia public nursing home is saying no, sending lawmakers a signal that though legal, it's wrong to drain federal Medicaid funds.
The facility is Lucy Corr Village nursing home in Chesterfield, Va. Chesterfield County lawmakers approved having Lucy Corr take part in the "upper payment limit" scheme, under which state Medicaid programs inflate payments to public hospitals and nursing homes, thereby increasing the amount of Medicaid money the federal government contributes to the state budget.
But the commission that runs Lucy Corr said no, and effectively passed on an extra half-million dollars. "There were some difficult issues involved," John Gibney, a nursing home commissioner, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "I felt that through the process, Medicaid funds would be used for a purpose which they were not intended. I thought it was improper to do that."
The nursing home commission's vote will have no effect on what the state will be able to receive by making use of the loophole-some $259 million.
Giving away a piece of the jackpot. Most people will never forget the week of Sept. 11 when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Shirley Press, M.D., will remember that week for two reasons.
Two days after the attacks, Press went public with the news that she had won Florida's $54 million lottery jackpot. She bought the winning ticket in the gift shop of Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where she has worked as a pediatric emergency room physician for more than 20 years and is now director of pediatric emergency care. She is donating a portion of her winnings to disaster relief efforts.
Press, 50, stopped in the gift shop on Sept. 5, the same day of the state's weekly lottery drawing. In addition to a Peppermint Pattie, she bought six "quick pick" lottery tickets. The next day she compared her tickets to the winning numbers.
"I didn't look at my tickets until I got home from work Thursday night," Press said in a written statement. "I read the numbers in the Miami Herald to myself and I was in total disbelief. I just started trembling!"
Most people would start trembling. The doctor had opted for the cash prize in a lump sum, which after taxes amounted to $20.8 million. Press did not say how much she is donating to the disaster relief funds.
"When I heard what happened with the tragic events on Tuesday, I felt guilty about my good fortune," she said. "However, my attorney advised me to drive to Tallahassee (Fla.) . . . to claim my winnings."
Press, who reportedly lives in an upscale Miami home and drives a BMW, did not thrill everyone at the hospital with her newfound wealth.
"Are you serious?" asked Marlene Dessources, a nurse who works with Press, in a media interview. "Why not me?"
Press said she plans to continue working at Jackson Memorial.
Phone phony. Callers posing as "physicians from HCFA" recently contacted several St. Louis-area hospitals seeking the facilities' disaster and mass casualty plans, according to the Missouri Hospital Association. The bogus callers, of course, might have been a bit more believable had they said they were from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as HCFA is now known.
The association was notified of the calls by the Missouri Department of Health. "It's something we're concerned about," says Mary Jenkins, the group's communications director. "As soon as we heard about it, we sent out an e-mail communication to our members."
The same note, which includes the phone number of a CMS regional representative in Kansas City who can verify CMS information requests, also was included in the hospital association's weekly newsletter. Local police and the FBI are investigating the calls, Jenkins says.
Quotables. "You've been a breath of fresh air of gale force."
-Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.), a member of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, to Thomas Scully, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, during a hearing on Medicare regulatory reform.
"I'm not going to call it a gale force. All I've seen is a name change."
-Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) to Scully, minutes after English made his remark. The CMS recently changed its name from HCFA.