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LifeNet closing Eau Claire will not affect Schofield COHO operations


EAU CLAIRE, WI (WSAU) - A healthcare company is closing down, leaving about 120 employees out of work and nearly 400 clients looking for a new provider.

Eau Claire based LifeNet’s owner Jeff Fresia says they have been providing care for elderly and developmentally disabled people in their homes. He says the in-home health care business will close March 26th. “The LifeNet site in Eau Claire is going to be closed down in Eau Claire, and we’re going to move to a smaller location. The Schofield site that we have is not really a LifeNet office, but is a COHO office, and it deals with our COHO assisted living operation as well as our COHO transportation, so that’s not impacted. Medford, we closed two months ago.”

Fresia says LifeNet’s closing is directly related to the lack of payment from government supported programs. “We had CHP (Community Health Partnership) here in this local community, who closed their doors and proceeded to go bankrupt about a week later, and we’re left (without) a very large sum of money with them. We did ask and receive some emergency payments, but we haven’t been paid for everything. On top of that, we have another large government provider that owes us back to July.” Fresia could not disclose which provider that is, except to say it is government program funded.

Low reimbursement pay from government programs like Medicaid, Family Care, and the now-bankrupt Community Health Partnership do not cover the cost of providing the services. Fresia adds that a nearly 300% increase in Unemployment insurance premiums, taxes, and the uncertainty of the Affordable Healthcare Act don’t help. “We’re looking, too, down the line at Obamacare and how it’s going to impact us. If we can’t afford to meet ends right now, how are we going to do it in January?”

The LifeNet clients were primarily in Taylor, Clark, Eau Claire, Chippewa, and Trempealeau counties. Fresia says the COHO LLC Transportation services in the Wausau area and COHO’s Adult Family Home services in Thorp, Colby, and Weston will continue to operate as they do now.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has been notified of the closing, and they intend to assist the soon-to-be-displaced workers.