Wednesday, August 29, 2012

County to seek nursing-home proposals

Commissioners discuss objective analysis

Express Staff Writer

Express file photo The Blaine Manor skilled-nursing facility in Hailey is currently being subsidized by county taxpayers.

Blaine County commissioners on Tuesday polished a request for proposals to build skilled-nursing facilities, emphasizing that any new facility must be able to support itself in the long term without taxpayer subsidies.

In May, the county had issued a request for information from the 79 state skilled-nursing facilities and from the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation, asking them for suggestions on what a successful skilled nursing care model could look like in Blaine County. 

The county received three responses: one from Pocatello-based Safe Haven Health Care, which was already planning to build a private facility in Bellevue, one from Pocatello-based TanaBell Health Services, which would take over management of Blaine Manor and split profits or losses with the county, and one from the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation, which envisioned a tiered-care facility owned by a nonprofit corporation, but which would require a 35-year $29.5 million general obligation bond.

County Administrator Derek Voss said during the meeting that a request for proposals is more formal, and would provide more detail regarding the organizations’ plans for the county specifically and allow the county to more clearly evaluate the alternatives.

The request for proposals asks the organization to provide the business plan for its current facilities, a business plan outline for a proposed facility in Blaine County, short- and long-term financial goals and the extent and type of county support needed.

“If you get to the end of this and
you get the right numerical answer,
but it’s the wrong answer, we don’t
want to lock you in.”
Derek Voss
Blaine County administrator

The proposals would then be evaluated based on criteria such as how well the evaluators feel the proposed facility would provide safe and compassionate senior care, how successful the facility is likely to be without county support in the near and distant future and how well the facility would be able to provide care for those on Medicare and Medicaid.

The proposals would be evaluated on a scale of 1 to 10 on how well they can meet 10 criteria, scores that would then be weighted based on how important the board feels each criterion is.

Voss said that process would allow the commissioners a more objective basis for determining a potential choice for a senior care provider.

“It’s a good process, it’s used often, and we’re not inventing anything new here,” he said.

Commissioner Larry Schoen likened the process to that of hiring someone for a management position. He said that even though there is likely to be a numerical winner, that doesn’t mean the highest score will be the best choice.

“This would guide us to a pool of candidates that are qualified to meet the county’s needs and wants, but who are offering that in slightly different ways,” he said. “I’m not saying it will be clean and tidy, but ultimately the decision [on which proposal is best] rests with the board.”

Voss said the proposals will also undergo a risk analysis before the commissioners accept any proposal and work toward an agreement. And, he added, the commissioners are not under any obligation to accept the highest-scoring proposal.

“If you get to the end of this and you get the right numerical answer, but it’s the wrong answer, we don’t want to lock you in,” he said. “The board has to be able to say, ‘Thank you, but that won’t work for us.’”

The board is putting the final touches on the request and will finalize the document at next Tuesday’s meeting. The commissioners will also discuss who will evaluate the proposals.

Kate Wutz:

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