WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WREX) — Winnebago County leaders say it needs to collect $4.5 million from some River Bluff Nursing Home residents.
It also says roughly $3 million of that amount is more than 90 days overdue.
“We haven’t been very good at making sure that we’re following up on our receivables,” Carla Paschal, the county administrator says.
In the past, the county says it would turn to the state’s attorney’s office to go after the money. But now, it’s turning to a company called Markoff Law LLC.
The county says it thinks it will only be able to collect about $2.5 million of the money its owed.
“I think the amounts over 210 days are questionable because as patients move into the home, if we are not following up on the assists that they own, they can be taken by family members and sold,” Paschal says. “So, there are probably some assists that we’ve already lost.”
The contract the Winnebago County Operations Committee approved Thursday night says the firm would charge the county a fee upwards of $500 per case. On top of that, it would also keep 30 percent of what it collects from patients. It’s a concern some county board members have about the contract.
“If you’re having to collect the debt, you can assume the debtor is having trouble paying,” Board member Paul Arena, R-District 7 says. All of those won’t be collected. We want to make sure at the end of the day — we end up in a positive place and don’t end up spending more than we bring in.”
This shift also comes as several 13 News viewers reached out to WREX about speculation over whether the county would sell off river bluff to a private company.
13 News spoke with County Board Chairman Frank Haney who said in order to do that, the matter would have to go to a referendum vote. To get that on the ballot next spring, he says the county would have to approve the move by January.
Haney would not go on camera, but says in a statement the county does not have plans to do that. He goes on to say in his statement, “We need to acknowledge that we are not on a sustainable path financially and this will need to be addressed in the coming years.”
For now, the county says it hopes collecting money its owed will help bring in some revenue.
“In order to make sure we are able to fund the operations of River Bluff, we need to make sure all amounts from patients that are due are collected,” Paschal says.