Paid Letters to the Editor

We welcome letters to the Editor, a chance for members of the community to comment on issues of concern to them. All letters must be original, not duplications of letters addressed to public officials or written by others. The views and opinions expressed are those of the letter writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication, its publishers, Editor, or staff.

To the Editor:
I am responding to a letter concerning Pine Crest, published in the Feb. 8 edition of the Foto News. The letter states that last year the County had to cover 1.1 million dollars in operating deficits. The author must be referring to the deficit for 2022, because last year in 2023, Pine Crest had no operating deficit and in fact ran a surplus.
The letter also refers to the Ad Hoc Committee report concerning the future of Pine Crest that was completed before the increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate that enabled Pine Crest to run a surplus. The increased rate in reimbursement is in place now and will continue. The Ad Hoc Committee report is obsolete.
The letter states the County owes over 8 million dollars for the 2017 addition to Pine Crest. The annual payment on the debt is $630,000. The letter doesn’t mention that the financing has been paid, up to now, out of Pine Crest revenues not out of taxes collected by the County. That revenue will no longer be available if Pine Crest is sold. If the debt is not paid off out of the sale, the taxpayers will foot the bill.
It is worth remembering that the millions of dollars of operating expenses incurred by Pine Crest annually are almost all paid by Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance. The taxpayer’s share of Pine Crest operating expenses is the $440,000 the County is obligated to pay under its contract with NCHC. I for one am willing to bear that expense.

– Don Dunphy
Merrill, Wis.

To the Editor:
I read with interest the Letter to the Editor by Don Friske.
Below is pertinent information that was not included.
NCHC did request $1.1 million dollars. Why? The State Department of Health reallocated the amount they provide County skilled nursing facilities without warning. This amounted to a $1.5 million reduction in funding. Saying it failed may be putting an incorrect interpretation on the matter.
Another detail, in 2023 the NCHC/Pine Crest Operating Budget had a positive $450,000 balance, a difference of almost $1.75 million dollars compared to 2022. Is that failing? Not in my book. Can that be guaranteed for years to come? No, but based on Medicaid rates going from an average of $201 to $340 per day, the future is certainly brighter. Is the County Board acknowledging this powerful change? I haven’t seen it.
By the way, that $450,000 is being applied to the Fund Balance Account, currently at a -$1,474,000 dollars; fund balances should be positive.
Missing in history is the amount of public outpouring that the citizens have demonstrated to retain ownership of Pine Crest. This has been well documented by a survey, petition, testimonials, and meetings.
Pine Crest’s financial history has had it challenges, but we have overcome them. The intrinsic value of Pine Crest to the community has been greater than the challenges.
This is an incredibly important decision at hand. Yes, someone will have to pay for the continued operation of Pine Crest. I feel the 2023 data is the beginning of the answer we have been waiting for. It needs recognition and support.
For 70 years the people of Lincoln County have been able to rely on Pine Crest. What types of decisions will a privately-held facility make when profits are thin?
Do not let your voice go unheard at this critical juncture. Do not allow the Board members to rush through any type of vote on its sale. Request a public venue to provide information and answers before any vote of the full County Board.

– Eileen Guthrie
Merrill, Wis.

To the Editor:
And the Lincoln County Supervisor Chairman Don Friske and all other 21 Supervisors and the people of Lincoln County.
I would like to make a few points regarding the possible sale of our nursing home, Pine Crest.

  1. This home belongs to US, and WE, your constituents, want to keep it in OUR possession. WE have been paying for it.
  2. You denied us to vote in a referendum. Were you afraid of the outcome?
  3. Regarding the value of the property: It has not been assessed, no appraisal has been done and, therefore, we do not know the value of it and neither do you. How can you set a price?
  4. Maintenance costs have to be paid whether they are for public roads, City Hall, Jail, or other County-owned buildings, and this is no reason to sell Pine Crest.
  5. How would a private buyer improve a five-star nursing home (Pine Crest) and still make a profit?

Please, stop the sale!

– Susanna Juon-Gilk
Merrill, Wis.

The cost for Paid Letters to the Editor is $40.00 per letter of up to 250 words, plus $10.00 per additional 50 words, and must be prepaid prior to printing.

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