U.S. Representatives Pressure Attorney General to Stop Keiro’s Sale

January 21, 2016 • Community, News

More than 300 people attend a press conference in L.A. to stop the sale of the facility to for-profit Pacifica.

By P.C. Staff

Congresswomen Maxine Waters (D-Gardena) and Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) joined Save Keiro on its efforts to stop the sale of the nonprofit Keiro Senior HealthCare at a press conference at the First Southern Baptist Church on Jan. 14.

Save Keiro, the ad hoc group committed to stopping the sale, along with more than 300 people crowded the church and demanded that state Attorney General Kamala Harris stop the sale of the facility to for-profit Pacifica. Escrow is expected close in the coming months.

Today, Keiro serves more than 500 residents, making it the largest nonprofit healthcare organization dedicated to the Japanese American community.

Over the past several months, Waters’ office has worked to bring attention to Keiro’s sale to the Attorney General. In response, Harris said while she could not legally stop the sale, her office could facilitate a mediation between the three parties: Save Keiro, Pacifica and Keiro.

The discussion hopes to create dialogue between the groups but will lengthen the escrow process.
Some among the ad hoc committee feel the mediation is unacceptable, while others welcome the offer.
The progress made by Save Keiro comes after the open support and press conference held by Waters and Chu.

“We must continue to speak out against this sale, its one-sided terms and lack of transparency,” said Waters. “We must continue to advocate for the rights of those elderly Japanese American residents whose voices have yet to be fully heard.”

Waters is worried that Pacifica will raise rents and will not serve properly the Japanese American community. After the five-year transition, Pacifica is not required to extend the same level of care nor support Keiro’s current programs.

“As a member of Congress with the South Bay Keiro Nursing Home in my district, I feel a sincere responsibility to assist the elderly and the low-income seniors in the fight for justice and fairness,” Waters added.

Both Waters and Chu addressed three points to the coming of the sale that were troubling for them. First, no public hearing was held regarding the proposed sale.

Chu added that “print does not count, and 60 meetings do not count” as a means to notify the community. “Uprooting them now, without even holding a public hearing is wrong, and I am committed to reversing this sale.”

Second, the sale doesn’t require Pacifica to extend the same level of cultural significance currently offered to residents at Keiro. The terms also don’t ensure that current programs are protected. Therefore, if the sale were to go through, these services could be gone.

Lastly, the sale terms do allow for a potential increase in fees. “This increase could potentially render Keiro facilities unaffordable for many of the current low-income Japanese Americans the centers were designed to serve,” Waters said.

While Keiro is more affordable than other facilities like Hollenbeck Palms, which is located just a few blocks away from Keiro Retirement Home in Boyle Heights, it’s not geared for specifically low-income Japanese Americans.

Keiro representatives confirmed that prices for the retirement home facility are market price and not subsidized. The health care provider has accepted Medi-Cal for the nursing home, but those cases are limited.

Even still, as an important establishment for SoCal Japanese Americans, people aren’t lining up to live on Keiro’s campuses.

Applications to the retirement home have fallen over the past decade as more Japanese Americans are choosing to stay at home or live in facilities closer to their families. Rent increases for the retirement home and the increase in care costs were not part of the reason for why fewer Japanese Americans are
applying.

“Whether the sale goes through doesn’t change the need to get Sean (Miyake, Keiro president and CEO) and the board out,” said Save Keiro member Mo Nishida. “Keiro is a part of JA identity, it’s part of our community.”

However, a solution on how to stop the sale is still unclear. Neither a formal solution to sustain Keiro’s facilities nor a business model on what would change for the nonprofit to remain competitive in the changing healthcare landscape has been determined.

Due to federal reform, remaining sustainable will only grow more difficult as insurance companies offer lower reimbursements for care.

Some have argued that if the sale doesn’t go through, the programs geared toward lower-income Japanese Americans won’t be launched. The sale is expected to support community outreach programs, said Miyake. These programs are designed to address senior isolation, meal plans and ride shares in hopes of supporting Japanese Americans that can’t afford to enter Keiro’s brick-and-mortar facilities.

Regardless, Nishida feels strongly that “throwing the residents out without a say is taking away our voice. The community should decide if we want Keiro, and to not give us that opportunity is an injustice.” 

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