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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - March 26, 2004, New Braunfels, Texas FRIDAY, MARCH 2fi *>004 SPORTS PLAYOFFS SV, Canyon and New Braunfels in soccer action tonight, all vying to stay in the playoffs. Page 6A T T_ ._ „ aa to* m 180 Zeitung Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 I GUEST COLUMN j Chuck Engler explains how I NBISD should start budget cut-j ting at the central office, not I spending more. Pages 4A Vol. 153, No. 117 16 pages, 2 sections CLICK 4    4    4 500 WWW. I a 56825 00001 'Atfe f ¥ F|F T * Chance of Showers High Low 78 68 Details .... 1B DEAR ABBY 5B CLASSIFIEDS 5-8B COMICS 2B CROSSWORD 2B FORUM    4A OBITUARIES 3A SPORTS 6-8A TV GRIDS SB FRONTand Center ll '''    >    •    IMM    ■    p.,    r    :    yrw - vMr'i'iWmmmmmWi Legislative conference continues DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Kirkwood Manor residents Virginia Temple, left, and Flip Deschner, right, enjoy a bowl of vanilla ice cream and conversation with Norman Custer in the nursing home s ice cream parlor. Nursing homes affected by rising costs By Scott Mahon Staff Writer As the oldest baby boomers begin to approach their 60s, some question whether society will be able to fund a health care system, including long-term care, which is already underfunded. Norman Custer, administrator at one of New Braunfels’ three nursing homes, said the financial strain from cuts in Medicaid and the rising cost of health care will eventually bankrupt the nursing home industry. “Nursing homes are going to go bankrupt, especially the ones dependent on Medicaid," he said. A retired Army officer, Custer earned two master’s degrees, one in health care administration from George Washington University. He was the administrator of a long-term care facility in Floresville six years before moving to New Braunfels. Custer, 59, has managed Kirkwood Manor since 1993 and said an already strained health cate system will become even more vulnerable. “ The uncertainty of Social Security, the underfunding of Medicaid and the gl owing federal deficit present a bleak pic ture," Custer said. “And when people my age approach retirement or leave the workforce, we’re going to be faced with a shortage of health care providers like nurses, doctors, physical aids and all other kinds of licensed health care providers. I low is society going to pay tor their care?" In addition, the Medicare prescription drug bill enacted last year is estimated to cost $534 billion over IO years, he said. Custer said the cost of longterm care at Kirkwood Manor for one year is $55,000. “That includes room and board, medications and therapy,” he said. Kirkwood Manor’s current census is 115 residents, and 29 are private-pay residents who pay $ 135 a day for room and $800 to $1,200 a month for medications. “We’re fortunate that a high percentage of our residents ait* private-pay," Custer said. “Usually 70 percent of a nursing home's revenue comes from Medicaid reimbursements." I lowever, to qualify for Medicaid, a person must have less than $1,692 monthly income and less than $2,(XX) in assets. “For instance, let’s take a Medicaid resident who gets $600 a month in Social Secu- DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung Kirkwood Manor resident Verlie Goss. 95. talks with RN Deborah Shipley while the two make their way through the hallways of the nursing home. rity benefits," he said. “After allowances for personal needs, that leaves $555 to pay for room, board and medication. The state supplements the nursing home with Medicaid funds.” But the 78th Iexas Legisla ture cut Medicaid nursing home funding by $80 million last year, Custer said. According to the Texas I Ie a11 h Care Association, the average Medicaid nursing home reimbursement level is See HOME. Page 3A Area students excel in TARS By Dylan Jim6nez Staff Writer Comal County and New Braunfels third-graders are better readers than the state average. About 96 percent of Comal Independent School District third-graders passed the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) reading test administered March 4. About 95 percent of New Braunfels ISO third-graders passed the test. Statewide, 91 percent of third-graders passed. Third-grade students need to pass the standardized test to be promoted to the fourth grade. Those who failed will have two chances to retest and will receive extra help immediately. “We read all the time," said Bonnie Patrick, principal of Hoffmann Lane Elementary. “We work at building comprehension skills. That s just a daily activity.” About 99 percent of Iioffrnann Lane third-graders passed the LAKS reading test. Patrick said the more a child reads, the better he or she reads. To back up the constant reading, Hoffmann teachers tutor and provide small group help. Preparation instilled confidence in I Ioffrnann students, Patrick said. “We* are pleased with the results and truly appreciate the efforts of our teachers and parents to make sure these See TAKS. Page 5A GS Choices New laws outlining options for mothers-to-be. DID YOU KNOW? «i TAKS replaced the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) during the 2002-03 school year S TAKS covers more subject areas and more grades than TAAS did ■ It requires students to do more analysis and use higher-order thinking skills. ■ 11th-graders must pass the exit-level TAKS to receive a diploma P Beginning in 2004-05, fifth graders must pass reading and math assessments to be promoted to sixth grade B Beginning in 2007-08, eighth-graders must pass reading and math to be promoted to ninth grade. MANDY REARY/Herald-Zeitung Ray Schoch, Gale Pospisil, Vladimir Pospisil and Dennie Heitkamp enjoy refreshments Thursday during the 38th annual Legislative Conference reception. The event continues today with workshops on school finance reform, transportation infrastructure, the economy and redistricting and the presentation of the Texan of the Year Award. New Braunfels Church of Christ Fridays, the Herald-Zeitung'Mm. treat house of worship. NEW BRAUNFELS CHURCH OF CHRIST dance: 450 Pastor Chad Massey Mission statement: Bringing glory to God by knowing the Father, sharing the love of Jesus Christ and being led by the Spirit. Denominational affiliation: Church of Christ Current atten- ■ Meeting times 8:30 arn and 10:45 am. Sunday ■ Location 1664 Business 35 S ■ Phone 625-J520 ■ Worship style blended. nomnstri> mental Church of Christ blending old traditions with new By Laigh Jones Staff Writer I .ast spring, New Braunfels Church of C Jirist experienced the beginning of something small that promises a big impact. Groups of 18 to 20 members have been meeting together weekly to study the Bible. The result, said coordinator Connie Kennedy, is a deeper knowledge of scripture and stronger bonds within the congregation. Home-based study groups were not new to the church, but Kennedy recognized the potential for growth through more purposed gatherings. “lf we want this to get bigger," she said, “we're going to have to do something." Several members, including Kennedy, formed a task force to develop t urriculi u n for the groups to use. They prayed before selecting leaders and then allowed members to sign up for the group of their choice. Success is evident in the number of new groups meeting. “We've doubled our attendance on Sunday nights,” Kennedy said. “We now have IO groups meeting all over town." Kennedy credits the small groups with building stronger relationships among congregation members. “The groups provide a setting for people to feel like they belong to a family." she said. “I already see there are people who have been overlooked in the past who are getting involved now. It’s also easier to meet spiritual and physical needs within small groups." All of the studies this year, including small groups and Sunday morning worship, are focused on the life of Christ. Pastor ( had Massey believes it is the most important thing the church will do over the next 12 months. “People are being changed,” he said, “and there’s excitement to see the impact this year’s study is going to have on the spiritual growth in our congregation.” See CHURCH Page 3A DAVID INGRAM/Herald-Zeitung New Braunfels Church of Christ Pastor Chad Massey. ;