Across the country there is a rising problem of nursing homes looking to get rid of less profitable patients. These unprofitable patients are primarily on Medicaid and require extra care. Nursing homes are using minor outbursts, a typical symptom of dementia and Alzheimer’s, to justify sending them to psychiatric hospitals. Once the hospitals evaluate and discharge the patients, the nursing homes are refusing to let them back into the facility. Then, that frees up room space for residents that are private pay or have private insurers.
Approximately 70% of nursing homes are for profit. The most lucrative patients for nursing homes are the ones that are there for short-term rehabilitation stints paid for by private insurers or Medicare, the federal program that insures seniors and people with disabilities. Medicaid patients are those that are there for longer stays and are low-income. Medicaid reimburses nursing homes at a much lower rate than Medicare or private insurers.
According to a recent article in The New York Times, ombudsmen in 16 states have reported nursing homes dumping patients in hospitals during the pandemic. The financial incentive to having higher-paying patients rises when Medicaid patients have illnesses, like dementia, that require extra care and attention from the staff.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has increased the staff shortages at nursing homes, so workers have said they have faced increased pressure from management to get rid of the most expensive, time-consuming, and least lucrative residents.
Nursing homes have had a history of financial incentives to evict patients in favor of those who pay through private insurance or Medicare. More than 10,000 residents and their families complained about being wrongfully discharged in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.
Federal law requires nursing homes to give residents 30 days’ notice if they plan to evict and they must provide the resident with a plan to transfer the resident to a facility that can meet their needs. If a resident goes to the hospital, the nursing home must hold their bed for a week. Nursing homes are trying to get around these laws by claiming some of these residents are a danger to their facility.
If your loved one resides in a nursing home, and you suspect nursing home neglect or abuse or a wrongful eviction, please contact us for further information.