Former County Board Member Ersel Schuster on Valley Hi

Former McHenry County Board member Ersel Schuster adds the following to the discussion on the Valley Hi Nursing Home’s having $40 million in the bank and a budget of $10-11 million which pretty much breaks even:

Some Thoughts on Valley HI

None of those, myself included, have all of the current and intricate information necessary to make factual statements regarding the county’s Nursing home operation.

What background I do have, I will offer the following thoughts.

Ersel Schuster

Ersel Schuster

Valley Hi’s mission is to protect the health safety and welfare of the county’s less fortunate.

Needless to say; that, over the years has changed to where the population of the facility is inching toward a 50/50 mix of Medicaid and private pay clients.

A review of the facility, done in the late 1990’s, laid the ground work for the county board to make decisions regarding the future of Valley Hi.

It was recommended that they

  • continue the operation as it had been but seek outside help to streamline the operation
  • ask the county residents if they would be willing to be taxed to continue the operation or
  • put the facility up for sale.

The referendum approach was the board’s choice and voters said they were willing to fund the operation.

In 2014, as we wrestled with the growing cash reserves in this fund, it was suggested that the county’s Legislative Committee seek legislation that would allow a reduction in the annual levy to better address actual financial needs but then, should the need arise, be able to raise that levy to meet those cost changes without having to go back to another referendum.

I’ve not seen where the county board has followed through on that.

My guess is that they have asked our state legislators to address the issue.  [It was on the legislative agenda, but nothing happened in Springfield.]

To the cash-reserve issue:

Personally, my choice would have been to sell the facility in 1999. I do not subscribe to government running anything other than barebones, basic needs. The public chose a different path. Based on that path, it is the responsibility of the county board to ensure that clients of the facility are well cared for.

I believe it was stated by staff that, based on the “financial health” of the state of IL, they would like to see a $20,000,000 cash reserve and another amount for upcoming and major maintenance issues.

Bottomline: For this fiscal year, I would take the current sum levied down to $1,000,000; then reduce that amount annually until the Medicare, Medicaid situation stablizes.

Further, I would want assurance that the $1,250,000 and the $750,000 (already taken) would REDUCE the GENERAL FUND and not simply increase another levied amount… in other words, do NOT do a “shell-game.”

Spend down the $20,000,000 (+/-) before going back to the taxpayers for an increase in that levy… should it be warranted.

= = = = =
The last time I looked, the balance was over $0 million.

Previous articles on the Valley Hi Nursing Home levy:

If you would like to call or email your county board members to express your views on whether they should levy the $3 millions or not, you can find their phone numbers and email addresses here.


Former County Board Member Ersel Schuster on Valley Hi — 15 Comments

  1. “Valley Hi’s mission is to protect the health safety and welfare of the county’s less fortunate.

    Needless to say; that, over the years has changed to where the population of the facility is inching toward a 50/50 mix of Medicaid and private pay clients”

    So with a little/lot of political slight of hand they changed the purpose and want more money to support it.

    Take back the money and return the facility to its purpose that was originally voted on by voters who actually trusted in what they were told. Surprise me and do what’s right – not what you officials can get away with.

  2. Talk to your county board members!

    Maybe they will listen to you.

    In the meantime, and since you apparently did not understand, I believe that is exactly what should be done IF… the county is going to be in the nursing home business.

  3. The “less fortunate”?

    Why do so many local politicians get their relatives into Valley Hi?

    It is a local taxpayer supported perk for the political class.

  4. Oh Charlie… Please!

    You once were to be taken seriously.

    You know full well that the true mission of the facility has always been for the indigent.

    This has been changing as more public officials don’t get it and to change the mission to compete with the private sector.

  5. Ersel:

    Do you want to discuss the names of politically connected who got their relatives in to Valley Hi?

    While Nunda had a few abuses, most that I heard of were from the western townships.

  6. I couldn’t believe it when I recently read in this blog that while the County Board has been communicating that they have been working hard to be fiscally responsible and not raising property taxes – that they have actually been using the levy capacity approved to operate Valley Hi to subsidize their General Fund needs for several years.

    This isn’t a shell game, this is a conscious act of the Board and staff that if it is not illegal it is highly unethical.

    I went to the County Clerk’s website and found the County’s Tax Computation Reports. (The tax levies are readily accessible all the way back to the 2003)

    So from 2011- 2014 the County reduced the Valley Hi levy by $3 million dollars and increased the General Fund levy by $3.3 million.

    The General Fund levy has increased an average of 3% annually, far more than the inflation rate during this time.

    Not only was the County unable to manage its General Fund budget to the rate of inflation as allowed under the tax caps but they actually took far more than would have been available had they not had the Valley Hi nursing home levy to steal from.

    All the while home values in the County were plummeting!!

    I don’t know who directed this levy shift, but I don’t ever remember anyone at the County ever stating that was part of the budget plan publicly.

    What a fraud!!

    It will be interesting to see how they plan to manage the General Fund this year without subsidizing it with Valley Hi levy capacity.

  7. Charlie… the place is open to anyone! It has been open to “private pay clients” for decades.

    Maybe you could explain to us what you’re talking about.

  8. Highly taxpayer subsidized nursing home care for the politically connected in McHenry County.

  9. Charlie… talk is cheap. Why can’t you give us the information you have so “better” decisions can be made to make the necessary changes?

  10. Ersel:

    By your reasoning, since everyone at Valley Hi is on private pay, no Taxpayer funds are needed at all so the Valley Hi levy should be zero. Obviously, your strawman can’t stand up.

    Check the last names of public pays patients at Valley Hi versus the names of elected officials in the western townships and McHenry Township. you will find an uncomfortable correlation.

    I am amused by the entire situation. the house I sold for $360,000 is now worth $210,000 but the property taxes are higher than when I was there.

    Panama City Beach or St. Joe Beach, decisions, decisions, decisions.

  11. Charles, Ersel said type the names here, your uncomfortable correlation.

    Then don’t let the door hit ya in the … as you leave, Friend!

  12. Charlie… you miss the entire point… and further, I do not see where I said that everyone at Valley Hi is private pay.

    Please, be rational so we can have a serious discussion.

  13. 1. Valley Hi stated bed allocations are 80 Medicaid, 20 Medicare, 20 Private Pay, 8 other.

    2. The actual population pay-classification mix varies, but no one has ever produced evidence that any Medicaid applicant or transfer has ever been denied placement.

    3. The Private Pay day rate at VH is much lower than privately owned competitors in this county.

    4. Private Pay clients become Medicaid when funds are depleted. However, there are loopholes allowing certain assets to be sheltered from Medicaid eligibility calculations.

    5. Nobody can ‘get in’ ahead of anyone else whether they are from McHenry County or not.
    Because Valley Hi accepts federal funds (Medicare), it cannot favor a McHenry County citizen over any other applicant or transfer.
    If Centegra finds it profitable to dump all Medicaid (non-profitable) patients into VH, the law demands VH accept those transfers, whether they are McHenry County residents or not.

    6. Medical facilities in Illinois are granted special Monopoly rights. The State issues CONs (Certificates Of Need) granting monopoly rights within a region.
    If there are not enough provisions of medical care for indigent/needy within a region, CON can be denied unless applicant submits plans to address those needs.
    When a publicly funded LTC facility exists in the region, it allows for-profits the luxury of higher percentages of non-Medicaid beds.

  14. Petty much on target, Susan.

    One point is that Valley Hi was INTENDED for the indigent. It has morphed to what it is today.

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