Pa. Told To Pay $785,000 To 8 Geriatric Centers

Posted: January 21, 1988

HARRISBURG — Commonwealth Court ruled yesterday that the state must reimburse a total of

$785,000 to eight county geriatric centers, including nursing homes in Philadelphia and Delaware and Chester Counties.

The decision follows a protracted legal battle that began in 1980, when the state Department of Public Welfare delayed by three months payments to the nursing homes for Medicaid patients.

The ruling, which the Welfare Department could appeal to the state Supreme Court, would entitle the Philadelphia Nursing Center to a payment of $145,000, the Fair Acres Geriatric Center in Delaware County to $240,000 and the

Pocopson Home in Chester County to $3,000.

Joseph Kintz, a Welfare Department spokesman, said the state spends about $700 million a year on Medicaid reimbursement for 50,000 patients. He said no decision had been made on appealing the case.

"We're talking about a small amount of money," he said.

Jeffrey B. Schwartz, a lawyer representing all the counties involved, said he would ask Welfare Secretary John F. White Jr. not to authorize an appeal.

"This is a chunk of money for those nursing homes and Medicaid recipients, and it will make their difficult lot a little easier," said Schwartz, of Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen.

Others eligible for payments are the Carbon County Home for the Aged, Cedarbrook and Cedarbrook-Fountain Hill Annex in Lehigh County, Westmoreland Manor in Westmoreland County, and Beaver Valley Geriatic Center in Beaver County.

The award to Fair Acres would be the largest single payment.

The case stems from major changes sought by the counties on reimbursement ceilings for Medicaid patients who are part of the state Medical Assistance program.

The legislature, after much lobbying by county governments, enacted the changes with an effective date of July 1, 1980, but the Welfare Department did not institute the changes until Oct. 1, 1980.

Kintz said the department's delay resulted from its determination that federal approval was needed for the changes.

The case went through a departmental administrative appeal process, with victory going first to the counties, then to the department, before Commonwealth Court reversed the ruling that favored the department.

"The delay of three months cost the eight facilities collectively

$785,000," Schwartz said. "We said the legislature's direction had to be followed, and the state bureaucracy could not delay it."

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