Senate budget committee approves Bowling Green veterans center funding
03/07/2017 05:50 PM
FRANKFORT — Legislation authorizing $10.5 million in bonds for a new veterans nursing home in Bowling Green cleared the Senate budget committee on Tuesday, placing the bill on the fast track to become law.
House Bill 13, cleared the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee unanimously on Tuesday and was placed on the Senate’s consent calendar for their approval.
The bill would authorize a bond needed to ensure the 90-bed nursing home remains competitive for $19.5 million in federal funding.
Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, has voiced concerns multiple times during the session about the location of the nursing home in western Kentucky, advocating for a proposed veterans facility in Magoffin County. On Tuesday, Smith asked Kentucky Veterans Affairs Commissioner Norman E. Arflack if the nursing home would be the last project of its kind in Kentucky.
The 90-bed facility would leave 47 “open” beds in the state for another region to attach federal dollars to in a new facility. Arflack told Smith that it is not “economically” or “operationally” feasible to have a 47-bed facility.
The state’s largest veterans facility is Thompson-Hood in Wilmore, Kentucky which Arflack described as an old-standardized model of nursing care. In his testimony, Arflack said the possibility exists for the state to “downsized the 285 beds at Thompson-Hood, privatize those rooms and free up some more bed space.”
The additional beds created through that process could then be attached to the existing 47 “open” beds left in the state to create another regional veterans nursing home.
A feasibility study has been conducted into the placement of the proposed nursing home, which found Bowling Green as the best place to locate as the federal Veterans Affairs administration anticipates a need from Fort Campbell.
The bill now moves to the full Senate for their consideration.
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