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'Gaming the System?'



Nursing home reform advocates describe recent reform legislation as, "limited and without significance" ... "overwhelmingly (due to) operators continuing to find ways to game the system" (Mailbox, March 16).

Nursing home operators hardly act alone.

During their public service careers, top local officials were silent, negligent or both, allowinge Brius Healthcare to monopolize county nursing homes despite headlines of injurious and corrupt practices continuing to this day.

Upon retirement, however, some former officials have found their voice, not for reforms but to vociferously demand public assistance to build a community separate from the community they had governed, administered, managed, enforced and neglected for everyone else, called, "Life Plan Humboldt," (McKinleyville's second $80 million elite retirement community), using their institutional knowledge, connections and generous pensions to "game the system."

Ironies are rarely more stunning.

Last Jan. 31, Humboldt County supervisors endorsed $2.5 million of public assistance for LPH, (with millions more to follow in public subsidies, infrastructure, ancillary services and local bank and foundation capital), after its president, Ann Lindsay, emphasized the need to, "keep (LPH) residents out of local nursing homes."

Lindsay omitted how "nonprofit" status can shelter LP residents's pensions from taxes; or, in the infamous words of NYC hotel magnate Leona Helmsley, "Taxes, (and local nursing homes), are for the little people."

For some perspective, the Salvation Army's housing developments also create jobs serving far more seniors at a fraction of the housing-unit cost of LPH, enabling residents to retain two-thirds of their Social Security income to support local businesses, healthcare and transportation. 

When Humboldt County voters begin electing courageous candidates honoring their Constitutional oath, framed to "promote the general welfare" for "we the people" instead of serving the whims of the privileged and influential, Sacramento might consider real nursing home reforms.

George Clark, Eureka

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