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A Florida-based company is planning to close three Nebraska nursing homes it owns.

Trillium Healthcare Group, based in Bradenton, Florida, has notified residents and staff at Premier Estates that it plans to close senior care facilities in Crete, Fremont and West Point.

Steve Marhee, Trillium's vice president of operations, confirmed the closings and said there is a 60-day process during which the company will work to help residents find other homes. The three nursing homes will likely close in early August.

Marhee deferred additional questions to Heath Boddy, president and CEO of the Nebraska Health Care Association, a trade group that represents more than 90% of the senior care companies operating in the state.

Boddy said the closings were because of two main factors: difficulty finding workers to keep the facilities fully staffed and operating losses because of low Medicaid reimbursement rates.

He said the Medicaid reimbursement rate per patient on average is about $36 per day less than the facilities' costs.

"It's really tough from a business standpoint to do that," Boddy said.

More than 140 people will lose their jobs as a result of the closings, according to filings with the Nebraska Department of Labor.

The filings, which are required when companies lay off a certain number of workers and/or close locations, show 64 people will lose their jobs in Crete, 43 in Fremont and 35 in West Point.

Boddy said Trillium has held job fairs and worked with other nearby senior facilities to try to help affected workers find jobs.

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Premier Estates of Fremont is on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services list of Special Focus Facilities, which are nursing homes with a poor inspection record. It is the only Nebraska facility on the list.

Boddy said he did not have any information suggesting that played a role in the facility's closure.

The Premier Estates closings come on the heels of the closing of several nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in the state that were owned by Cottonwood Healthcare, also known as Skyline.

The company's 21 homes were put into receivership last year after it ran into financial problems, and the receiver has since closed facilities in Omaha, Norfolk, Grand Island, Sidney, Schuyler, Wausa and Broken Bow.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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