A powerful House Republican secretly lobbied colleagues in the final hours of the 2014 session last week to kill a measure that would have been disastrous for his family's nursing home business.
Rep. Eric Turner lobbied to kill legislation that would have temporarily halted construction of new nursing homes and elderly care facilities, multiple Republicans with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press. Turner's son has emerged as a statewide leader in building such facilities, capitalizing on a surge of retiring Baby Boomers.
The Republicans spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the private caucus meetings during which Turner argued his case . . .
Turner's private lobbying marked an about-face from his public actions during the session, during which he regularly excused himself from votes on the measure and stayed quiet through public hearings.
Last year, The Associated Press reported that Turner had pushed a measure to benefit a client of his daughter, who is a Statehouse lobbyist. In light of that, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said last year he'd review how the House handles conflicts of interests . . .
House ethics rules bar lawmakers from voting directly to benefit themselves, but Turner's efforts last year and this year did not appear to be a violation because they would have benefited his children instead.
Mainstreet Property Group LLC, a development company run by Zeke Turner and founded in part by his son Eric Turner, is in the process of developing five projects that the company believes will result in $162 million in economic impact throughout the state. A message left Monday with a Mainstreet Property spokeswoman seeking comment was not immediately returned.
The stakes are high in the nursing home game. Existing operators, some with older facilities, came to state lawmakers this year seeking to extend a construction moratorium enacted in 2009. They argued that flooding the market with new facilities would draw wealthier patients away and cause Medicaid recipients to be stuck in worsening conditions at the older homes.
Eric Turner's children, Zeke Turner and Jessaca Turner Stults, who's a lobbyist for Mainstreet, were on the other side of the debate with developers and trade unions, arguing that building new nursing homes meant creating thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in economic development . . .
Zeke Turner and others launched a last-minute campaign at the end of the session, bringing in top-tier Republican and Democratic lobbyists to sway lawmakers. But it was his father's decision to swoop in last Wednesday as the session raced to a close that became deciding factor in defeating the nursing home measure, said another Republican with direct knowledge of Turner's efforts.There are really no good guys in this debate, only losers--the taxpayers. The Indiana Health Care Association is now dominated by the nearly 60 nursing homes owned in name only by the Marion County Health & Hospital Corporation and operated by American Senior Communities in an effort to bilk extra dollars out of Medicaid. The corrupt Health & Hospital Corporation is using the extra dollars being bilked out of Medicaid to pay for its more than $700 million Eskenazi Hospital. By creating the illusion that a nursing home is owned by a county-owned hospital, Medicaid reimbursement rates 50% higher than that paid out to other nursing homes can be tapped for providing the exact same services. More than 60% of the nursing homes in Indiana are now affiliated with county hospitals in order to take advantage of this Medicaid bilking scheme. The battle that took place at the legislature this year only proves the old adage that there is no honor among thieves.