Audit critical of State Veterans Home follow through

Posted at 2:30 p.m. on May 5, 2017

The Brillion News

MADISON – The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) has released the first phase of its evaluation of the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King in Waupaca County, which is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).

This phase of the evaluation (which is Report 17-8) focused on King’s revenues, expenditures, and capital projects. LAB’s analyses of resident care needs, compliance with regulatory requirements, complaints, and staffing will be completed in the second phase of the evaluation.

In 2016, King provided skilled nursing care to an average of 685 veterans and their spouses per day. Operating expenditures for King increased from $68.8 million in fiscal year (FY) 2011-12 to $76.7 million in FY 2015-16. During this same period, King generated operating revenue of more than $8.0 million in excess of its expenditures each year. At the end of FY 2015-16, the cash balance in King’s institutional operations account totaled $35.2 million.

LAB found that DVA has not established a formal plan for the use of King’s cash balance, and it recommended DVA do so.

“I am encouraged that they apparently already have funds that can be utilized to fix several concerns raised regarding the facility. I feel it is critical that DVA develop a robust plan to expend the balance on improving the King facility and its care for veterans. Additionally, I want to see the next phase of the audit to dive further in detail about how we can achieve better outcomes for our veterans at King,” said Senator Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay.

From FY 2011-12 through FY 2015-16, capital project expenditures for King totaled $20.2 million. From July 2011 through December 2016, 19 of the 29 capital projects King requested were initiated, but not all were initiated promptly, including the replacement of soiled carpeting in one of its skilled nursing facilities.

LAB found that DVA has not created a ten-year facilities plan for the Wisconsin Veterans Homes, and it recommended DVA do so.

“I appreciate the timeliness in receiving the first phase of this evaluation,” said Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem Lakes. “We can consider King’s financials during state budget deliberations and expand our understanding of the complete needs picture with the second report.”

In a previous audit report, which was released in August 2010, LAB recommended that DVA amend administrative code to include a formula for calculating private pay rates for care at the Wisconsin Veterans Homes, and that rate-setting terms such as “costs of care” be clearly defined.

As of March 2017, this recommendation had not been implemented. Therefore, LAB again recommended that DVA take these steps.

Copies of report 17-8 may be obtained from LAB’s website at www.legis.wisconsin.gov/lab or by calling (608) 266- 2818. Report concerns related to state government activities to LAB by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-FRAUD-17.

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