Two care centers in Missoula are terminating their contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs, prompting veterans who live at the assisted-living centers to find a new source of income, or find a home that accepts VA money.
Veterans who live at the Village Health Care Center and Hillside Manor in Missoula learned last month that the Goodman Group, which owns the two facilities, is ending its relationship with the VA.
Village Health Care Center issued a letter to residents on Jan. 21, notifying them of the change.
“It is with regret that we write to inform you that Village Health Care Center will be ending its contractual relationship with the Department of Veterans Affairs,” the letter read. “As a result, you will no longer be able to utilize VA funds to pay for your care and meet your payment obligations to Village Health Care Center.”
The letter did not state the reason why the contractual relationship was being terminated. It said the change would take effect on Feb. 28.
Paul Teagle, regional director for the Goodman Group, said federal contracts with the company’s care centers come up for renewal in different cycles. The firm owns three facilities in Montana, including two in Missoula.
When the contracts came up for Hillside Manor and the Village Health Care Center, Teagle said, the company opted to terminate its work with the VA.
“There are a lot of new federal requirements impacting private providers,” Teagle said. “We made a business decision. There are different provisions in different contracts and they’re pretty extensive.”
Teagle did not specify which contractual issue prompted the Goodman Group to cancel its contract with the VA. He said the residents impacted by the change are being cared for.
“It’s not that those residents have to leave, but they would have to come up with a different means of payment,” Teagle said. “A few had access to other funding sources and decided to stay. The others, we’re working actively with them and offered relocation at our other facilities.”
Randy Martin, communications director with the VA Montana Health Care System, said the state has a total of 36 contracted facilities in the program. That number will fall to 34 after the Village Health Care Center and Hillside Manor pull out.
Martin said the remaining facilities will stay with the VA program.
“We have more facilities reaching out to us to join the program,” Martin said. “The Goodman Group needs to speak to its decision.”
Phillip Strommen is one of five Missoula-area veterans who will be impacted by the contractual changes. His brother, Ed Strommen of Anaconda, said the family has the ability to help him stay put for now.
“Right now, we’re not planning on him leaving the Village Health Care Center in Missoula by the February deadline,” Ed said. “At least we don’t have that pressure.”
Strommen receives an income from VA disability pay, retirement and Social Security in the amount of roughly $6,000 a month. The cost to remain at the care center is around $9,000 a month, Ed said.
Strommen will cover the remainder with what he has in savings. A Vietnam veteran, he was exposed to Agent Orange in the war and lost a leg from subsequent diabetes.
“I’ve talked to Sen. Jon Tester’s office and the Goodman Group, and it doesn’t sound like things are going to get resolved,” Ed said. “(Phillip) has been there at that facility since 2008.”