Since assuming leadership at Pine Village in Moundridge, I often think of Katie Krehbiel, who donated this land with the vision for a suitable home for elder care, and hope that we are living up to her expectations.

Since assuming leadership at Pine Village in Moundridge, I often think of Katie Krehbiel, who donated this land with the vision for a suitable home for elder care, and hope that we are living up to her expectations. As part of that suitable home, Pine Village is an established non-profit organization and accepts all those who need care, which means care is subsidized through Medicaid (state funding).

You may have heard the word KanCare in the news and that is the state’s system that Medicaid is set up through, along with Home and Community Based Services and other state-funded programs.

KanCare came with a lot of promises, which the state has not been able to fulfill. Prior to KanCare, everyone could go to their county SRS office to complete their Medicaid application or to ask questions. Now KanCare has it all funneled through a clearinghouse in Topeka, which is doing anything but clearing through applications or questions.

The system is backed up beyond belief; when you call in to check on the status of your application, you rarely get a person. Usually you get an answering machine to leave a message, but that message never seems to be returned.

Additionally, the state of Kansas had not given long-term care an increase on our Medicaid rates since 2011, when long-term care providers instituted — at our own suggestion — a provider tax. The tax was designed where all the state’s nursing homes paid a per-bed fee that was then used to create matching federal dollars in order to increase our reimbursement. This worked until 2013, when the state decided to rebase the Medicaid rate and ended up decreasing our reimbursement amount.

This year, the long-term care field pushed to pass legislation to increase the amount of the provider tax in hopes to increase our reimbursement. As a result, we finally received a rate increase that was supposed to be 8 percent. But because Legislators ended their session with an unbalanced budget at the tune of about $40 million short, the Governor took 4.47 percent of that 8 percent increase to balance the budget. This results in long-term care getting only a 3.53 percent increase, which equates to only 0.706 percent over the past 5 years.

This decrease resulted in an $112,000 loss specifically for Pine Village.

We can’t decrease our care by 4.47 percent. In reality, the cost of care continues to rise, and we just don’t get paid for it because of this cut. It doesn’t take an accounting genius to figure out that you can land in the red pretty fast under the current situation.

Long-term care is not the only field taking a huge hit from the governor’s budget cuts. It’s more important than ever to stay educated on current issues at the state level.

Whether we’re in long-term care, have children in school, drive our state highways, or even depend on KPERS for retirement, these cuts affect all of us. We, as citizens of Kansas, have to stand up and say enough is enough.

So how do we do this? First, get to know your elected officials; you can find out who represents you at http://kslegislature.org. Communicate with your legislatures through email, phone or even at events such coffees (Pine Village hosts at least one per year) or town hall meetings.

Second, get educated on issues through the state legislative web site http://kslegislature.org, your local chamber of commerce, and through elected official’s emails. You can ask to be added to any state legislatures email list. You don’t have to live in their district.

There are many non-profit long-term retirement homes in this area who are suffering due to the poor policies that have come out of Topeka these last few years. I urge everyone who cares about their parent, grandparent or great grandparent living in long-term care to contact your legislators and show support for the care homes in your area. Let your legislator know that our homes need more funding in order to provide their residents with the proper care they deserve.

Grassroots efforts are vital and do make a difference! Be kind to one another!

Shelby Shaw is an administrator at Pine Village, Moundridge.