Monthly Archives: April 2011

Life After Mission Ridge

My guess is that most of you have never heard of Mission Ridge, let alone just how close  it came to being the epicenter of an event that could have fundamentally changed aging services.  Four years ago, the small continuing care retirement community in Billings, Mont., underwent a tax-exempt bond audit by the Internal Revenue Service. Following the audit, the IRS determined that entrance fees collected by Mission Ridge were really replacement proceeds from a tax-exempt bond used to finance its construction – and therefore were yield restricted.

What does that mean exactly? I decided to ask Mary Muñoz, the managing director for senior living finance at Ziegler Investment Banking. Mary offered the following analogy: “Say you’re the CEO of a nonprofit with a dedicated, segregated pot of cash saved for a future project. Investment rates are high, borrowing rates are low, and you decide to invest the cash at 6 percent, then turn around and borrow at 4 percent for your project. If you did that, your nonprofit would be prohibited from keeping the 2 percent in earnings because the cash is treated like bond proceeds, which legally may not earn a return above the yield.”

Bottom line: The IRS interpretation in the Mission Ridge case threatened the viability of all CCRCs financed with tax-exempt bonds.

In early February – after no less than nine separate attempts to prove its case – the IRS finally ruled in favor of Mission Ridge. I talked to the CEO, Kent Burgess, last week. While relieved, he expressed concern for what the future might hold for the entire field of continuing care retirement communities. The Mission Ridge case is one of a handful where the IRS is questioning the tax status of nonprofit providers of senior living and care. Now I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of thing that keeps me up nights. This case reminds us that how we care for older adults today might not be how we care for them tomorrow. As we contemplate the future of aging services, we must remain ever vigilant.

Solheim Lutheran Home Launches a New Blog of Interest to Seniors in Southern California

The Solheim Blog (www.solheimlutheran.org/wordpress) publishes news and information of interest to seniors and their loved ones looking for up to date information on continuing care, residential living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing with a slice of life fun!

Solheim — which means “sun home,” in Norwegian — is definitely bright in its outlook, providing a vital life for seniors. The Solheim Blog highlights the activities of seniors engaged in a full-range of activities that enrich body, mind and spirit. Exercise classes, Spanish class, arts and crafts, bridge games, genealogy class, spelling tournaments, yoga, book club, breakfast club, men’s club, computer class, and Bible study classes are just some of the activities to be detailed on the new blog. Solheim boasts 8 activity directors specializing in organizing lectures, classes, concerts, crafts and outings for all four levels of care.

Solheim Lutheran Home (www.solheimlutheran.org/) strives to reach beyond maintenance of physical health for seniors. Our commitment to our residents is to provide an abundant life with love, peace, dignity and security. When illness or injury reduces the ability to enjoy or participate in an active life, our goal is to help our residents to maintain as much independence and comfort as possible.

With excellent memory care and skilled nursing, Solheim is ready to serve the more frail adult as he or she ages, and we’re poised to enhance the life of all senior residents.

Solheim has a wheelchair friendly bus to transport residents throughout the greater Los Angeles area, to entertainment such as the LA Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl, concerts in the park, Nixon Library, Dana Point, Monrovia Canyon Park and Descanso Gardens.

Solheim posts upcoming events open to seniors and people of all ages on their main website (www.solheimlutheran.org) and regularly posts news and information of interest to seniors on the new Solheim Blog (www.solheimlutheran.org/wordpress).

The “Solheim experience” would not be complete without our “minitherapists,” Ole, Chevy, Hank and Snickers, our “on staff” dogs. The impact of these animals on the health of our entire Solheim community has been a perfect expression of the benefits of human/animal contact and interaction.

Solheim Lutheran Home Launches a New Blog of Interest to Seniors in Southern California.

Members Take Message to Capitol Hill

Several members of Aging Services of California attended the 2011 Future of Aging Services Conference sponsored by LeadingAge earlier this month. As part of the conference, members spent time on Capitol Hill – talking to lawmakers and their staff about expanding the world of possibilities for aging.
 
Aging Services Leaders Meet with Representative Pelosi’s Office

Pictured above: Joanne Handy, Aging Services of California; Pam Kaufman, Hanson Bridgett; Liz Miller, Representative Pelosi’s Office; Eileen Kunz, On Lok; and Jerry Brown, Bethany Center.

Aging Services Members Meet with Representative Waxman

Pictured above: Chris Bernabe, TELACU; Matt Bearce; Dr. Neil Cutler, Motion Picture and Television Fund; and Representative Henry Waxman.

House 2012 Budget Proposal Includes Cuts to Programs Serving Seniors

From LeadingAge: House 2012 Budget Proposal Includes Cuts to Programs Serving Seniors.

On April 5, 2011, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the U.S House of Representatives Budget Committee, released his proposed fiscal 2012 budget. The budget does not set spending levels for every federal program. Instead, it would establish funding allocations for broad categories of federal programs. Follow-up legislation would be necessary to make any changes necessary in programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The budget proposal includes the following provisions affecting long-term services and supports providers and those they serve:

  • Repealing health care reform. The budget documents do not specifically mention the CLASS Act plan for financing long-term services and supports, but CLASS was enacted as part of health care reform.
  • Replacing Medicare with voucher system. Beginning in 2022, the present Medicare program would be replaced with a voucher system. This proposal would apply to people now aged 55 and under. They would be given a choice of approved private health insurance plans and would receive a subsidy to help with the cost. People with low incomes or health risks would receive somewhat larger subsidies. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that beneficiaries would have to pay more out of pocket than they do now for coverage comparable to the current Medicare benefit.
  • Transforming Medicaid into a block grant. The amount each state would receive would be indexed for inflation and for population growth. However, there would no longer be the countercyclical effect of increased federal funding when demands on the program increase during a recession. States would gain increased “flexibility,” which could include the loss of the mandate for coverage of nursing home care. The budget documents do not mention Medicaid’s role in financing long-term services and supports.
  • Changing rental assistance. The budget documents do not discuss senior housing or the role that rental assistance plays in enabling people living on fixed incomes to afford decent housing. The budget document calls for changes in rental assistance that, “Encourage recipients of federal housing aid to lead lives of increased self-sufficiency by decreasing disparities between assisted and unassisted renters and by making aid contingent on work or job training.”
  • Decreasing funding for programs that support seniors in the community. The budget document would reduce to 2008 levels total spending on all discretionary spending programs, such as Section 202 housing, Section 8 rental assistance, Older Americans Act (OAA) programs. If this proposal were to be implemented program-by-program, we would lose the substantial increases in Section 202 and OAA funding that we have gained over the last 3 years.

The House Budget Committee plans to take up the budget proposal during the week of April 5. Assuming the committee approves the proposal, it could be considered on the House floor the following week. The U.S. Senate also must pass a budget resolution and the 2 houses would have to reach consensus on a final version.