HARRISONVILLE, Mo. – Meadow View Health and Rehabilitation Center has been Lisa Cotter’s passion for four years. She works at the nursing home as a registered nurse.
That’s why she was shocked in December when she received some alarming news in the mail.
It was a letter from Colonial Life Insurance Company informing her that her $100,000 term life insurance policy, $20,000 whole life policy and disability coverage were canceled last August because her employer hadn’t been paying her premiums – even though they were being deducted from her paychecks.
Cotter said every employee she has spoken to with a Colonial Life Insurance policy received the same letter.
For Cotter, the news couldn’t have come at a worse time. She has cancer, and her family relies on her income. She’s kept working through radiation, chemo and now immunotherapy, but she knows she faces an uphill battle and worries about her husband should she die.
“It’s been causing me a lot of stress,” she said. “My husband doesn’t work right now, and if something happens to me, he is going to lose the house. He is going to lose the vehicles. He is going to lose everything.”
She immediately reported the problem to Meadow View as soon as she received the letter, but said she was surprised by the response.
“The company is trying to say that we are not paying the premiums, but I printed all my paystubs to prove that I am paying,” Cotter said, who also provided copies of her paystubs to FOX4.
Meadow View is owned by SRZ Management, commonly known as Reach LTC. It’s the second largest owner of nursing homes in Missouri. According to a federal database, the company, which has more than 400 employees, collected about $9.6 million in COVID-related Payroll Protection Program money in 2020.
FOX4 Problem Solvers tried to call someone at Reach’s corporate headquarters and discovered it wasn’t an easy task. Its website doesn’t work. Its Facebook page doesn’t list an address or a phone number.
We found a news story that listed the company’s headquarters as St. Charles, Missouri, so we called a nursing home the company owns in that city to try and find a phone number. The woman who answered the phone told us the company isn’t based in St. Charles. She said every corporate head she has ever met has flown in from Chicago. But she had no idea how to get hold of them.
None of that surprised Marjorie Moore, who heads VOYCE, a nursing home advocacy group in St. Louis.
“A lot of nursing homes are owned by private equity organizations that are bought and sold quite often,” Moore said. “That can be a real challenge to really understand who owns the facility.”
What did surprise Moore was that insurance premiums weren’t being paid.
“It’s a huge break in trust with your employees when something like that happens,” said Moore, adding that most nursing homes are struggling to find and keep employees. “Word gets out, whether you are in a small town or a big town. What type of employer you are gets out.”
Here’s the good news: After more digging, Problem Solvers finally did get hold of a PR company that represents Reach LTC.
He contacted the company, which immediately took care of the problem and sent FOX4 this statement:
“We recently learned that there was a temporary disruption in the payment of some insurance coverage premiums as a result of a third-party payroll processing error that unfortunately affected a small number of our employees. The issue is currently being resolved without any gap in coverage. We value our employees and their hard work and dedication to the residents we serve.”
The company said all employees have to do to verify their coverage has been reinstated is to contact their insurance company. Cotter did. She told us her problem is now solved.