FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - An administrative law judge has ruled that
the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services can terminate funding to a Kentucky residential facility for mentally retarded adults.
The ruling is bad news for the Bluegrass Communities at Oakwood,
the embattled facility in Somerset that serves 224 people, because
Medicaid provides about 40 percent of the $75 million annual operating costs.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services plans to appeal the ruling. Spokeswoman Vikki Franklin said the agency also is considering submitting a new application asking federal officials to re-certify Oakwood for the Medicaid program.
"We are working diligently to determine the effect of this decision on the future of Oakwood," said Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller. "As we pursue all our options to preserve Oakwood's federal funding, we will continue to make plans to ensure that care of the residents is not negatively impacted."
Franklin said Oakwood has undergone significant change for the
better since it came under scrutiny by federal officials in 2005.
"It is in effect a different facility," she said.
The state contracted with the Bluegrass Mental Health-Mental
Retardation Board to take over the facility in November 2006.
Federal inspectors who visited the facility in November reported that residents appeared to be safe and well cared for. But the inspectors gave no guarantee that the facility would retain Medicaid funding after a four-day review.
The Somerset facility came under fire in 2005 after receiving more than two dozen serious citations from state regulators that dealt with patient neglect and endangerment. In one instance, a resident drowned after he was left alone in the bath.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)