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Protesters: "Our Seniors Are Not For Sale"

Protesters in Franklin County made their message clear to their commissioners. They do not want the Falling Spring Nursing Home in Chambersburg to be sold to a private company.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. Chanting, “Our seniors are not for sale,” protesters in Franklin County made their message clear to their commissioners. They do not want the Falling Spring Nursing Home in Chambersburg to be sold to a private company.

"Our nursing home delivers excellent care,” said protest organizer Sheri Morgan. “None of the potential nursing home buyers score any higher than our scores on the [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] ratings. So some people have said, ‘It's not broken why are we trying to fix it?’"

Protesters are also worried a privately-owned nursing home might turn away patients who cannot afford care without Medicaid.

However, Franklin County commissioners say they will not sell the nursing home to a private company unless they have a proven track record of providing high quality care to patients.

"We would only consider doing that if we can identify a firm that shares the commissioners' and the county's values in terms of commitment to quality of care and in particular taking care of people who are eligible for Medicaid,” said David Keller, chairman of the Franklin County Commissioners’ Office.

Keller says Falling Spring costs the county about a quarter of a million dollars every year. Due to an increased need for repairs and potentially unreliable government reimbursements, he says a private company might better ensure the long-term future of Falling Spring.

But opponents, including the more than 600 people who have signed a petition, are not satisfied with the promise that the new buyer will be subject to high-standard requirements under contract.

"The problem is once it's sold, it's sold,” said Franklin County resident Sheldon Schwartz. “And then all of those best efforts cannot be regulated."

The Commissioner's Office says there are plenty of alternative options, with more than 80 skilled nursing homes within an hour’s drive of Chambersburg that accept Medicaid.

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