- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The state of Wyoming is offering incentives for any nursing home operator that wants to step in and take over the Saratoga nursing home, Wyoming Department of Health Director Tom Forslund said.

Since Deseret Health Group announced earlier this month that it would close its nursing homes in Rock Springs and Saratoga, the state has stepped in to assist in making sure the nursing homes remain open.

EmpRes Healthcare Management LLC, based in Vancouver, Washington, is set to take over operations in Rock Springs on Tuesday. But a new operator has not been found for the Saratoga facility.

Montana-based Health Management Services has shown interest in the Saratoga operation.

Health Management has been concerned that more than half of the home’s 27 residents had already been removed. The company also worried it wouldn’t be reimbursed by Medicare for as many as 10 months, said Anita Mills, Saratoga administrator.

However, federal officials have provided verbal assurances they would fast -track a new operator’s application so the company would receive reimbursements sooner, said State Health Department spokeswoman Kim Deti. The state has also agreed to prioritize its application process.

In addition, the state agency is offering a temporary enhanced reimbursement rate for Saratoga while the facility and new operators repopulate the beds back to their historic average.

“We’ve provided a range of amounts we could enhance those payments to for a temporary time period,” Forslund said.

Since Deseret’s announcement, about 18 of nearly 60 residents moved out of the Rock Springs nursing home and 16 left the Saratoga nursing home before Gov. Matt Mead put a hold on relocating residents.

Mills is hopeful Health Management can strike a deal with Deseret by the end of the week. She wants to bring back three of her former residents immediately. They are not adjusting to their new homes in Cheyenne, Rawlins and Laramie, she explained.

“They’re under a lot of emotional distress,” Mills said.

Residents won’t be able to return until a new operator is in place.

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