The LoHud.com out of New York had an article about another nursing home employee arrested for stealing from the residents. Jessica L. Carlson, a nurse’s aide at Putnam Ridge Nursing Home, faces a felony larceny charge after she stole jewelry from a patient. She was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny. She was released without bail.
Bloomberg reported that the nursing home industry sector will see increased revenue from new Medicare reimbursement rules. Analysts expect better results from National HealthCare Corp., Skilled Healthcare Group Inc., and Sun Healthcare Group Inc.
Skilled Healthcare raised its profit and revenue estimates for 2010 and issued a stronger-than-expected forecast for the new year. Sun Healthcare also issued an annual outlook that was about equal to Wall Street estimates. Sun Chairman and CEO William Mathies said the new Medicare reimbursement system will increase its revenue and its profit before items like interest, taxes, and rent.
Analysts raised his target for National HealthCare to $52 from $44 and his target on Skilled Healthcare to $14 from $11.
Will the staffing, training, and overall care of the residents improve or will the money go to shareholders?
The Rochester Patch reported the guilty plea and sentencing of Wayne Henry Devary Jr., a MediLodge Nursing Home worker who admitted to exposing himself to an elderly female patient. Devary admitted that he had also exposed himself to two other female patients. The Oakland prosecutor’s office indicated that all three women suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
Devary was charged with exposing himself and putting the woman’s hand on his genitals during an Oct. 18 incident at the facility. He pleaded guilty Dec. 8 to aggravated indecent exposure.
Devary was sentenced to only four months in jail and three years’ probation. He will also have to participate in a sex offender treatment program and pay a series of fines, including $500 in court costs. Devary was credited with 60 days’ time served in the county jail, reducing his prison time to only two months.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported the 17 year sentence of Roberto Recendes, who pleaded guilty to sexual penetration by force and elder abuse for attacking the woman eight years ago at the Palo Alto Commons nursing home.
The plea deal reached in October spared him a longer prison sentence. He could have been sentenced to 25 years to life if convicted on original charges of rape during a burglary. The San Jose Mercury News says Recendes was linked to the attack by a DNA sample taken from him following a domestic violence conviction in Sunnyvale in 2004.
The Plain Dealer in Cleveland had an article about the 20 year sentence of Lemar Daniels for raping a mildly retarded woman on six counts of rape. The offenses occurred at the Middlebury Manor Nursing Home where he worked as a nurse’s aide.
Daniels was also classified as a Tier III sexual offender and upon his release from prison, he will be required to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life.
The Courier Post had an article about another nursing home employee arrested for stealing and selling medications from the residents. Theresa Walters was employed at Sterling Manor nursing home. Police said a monthlong investigation by Maple Shade and Cherry Hill authorities revealed that Walters was illegally selling and offering to sell prescription narcotics to several people at the facility.
Investigators made undercover purchases from Walters, which led to her arrest. She was charged with distribution and possession of a controlled dangerous substance, distribution in a school zone, and conspiracy. It is not known how many residents were offered or bought the medication.
The facility has also been the scene of three fires over the last year, one allegedly started by a resident.
Bloomberg had an article stating the obvious: For profit nursing homes steal more money from Medicare than charitable nursing homes. The Inspector General investigated and found that for-profit nursing home companies are likelier than non-profit counterparts to overbill Medicare for the costliest services. See report here.
The study show for profit national chains keep patients longer, charge more for care and classify clients for more extensive and costly services than needed, The findings, based on audits of nursing-home billings from 2006 to 2008, “raise concerns about the potentially inappropriate use of higher-paying” billing codes, said the report by the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Inspector General.
The program covers only 100 days of nursing-home services who require skilled care or rehabilitation following a hospitalization of at least three consecutive days. Medicare plans to target an undisclosed list of nursing homes with “questionable” billing practices. The program specifically is examining “special-nursing facilities” for patients recovering from an injury or who are disabled.
Medicare spends more than $5 billion spent on nursing home care nationwide. The facilities reaped a windfall for caring for these purportedly fragile patients. Patients did not become more costly to care for – nursing homes became increasingly skilled at raking in public money. Nursing homes identify patients as having ultra-high needs to get ultra-high reimbursement which should only apply to 5% of residents. However, the inspector general report shows that the rate was up to 17 percent in 2006 and jumped to 28 percent by 2008.
The current system “encourages (nursing homes) to furnish therapy, even when it is of little or no benefit,” Mark Miller, executive director of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, told federal lawmakers in 2007 [PDF].
The Wall Street Journal had an article about families that compensate family members for caring for loved ones at home. According to a report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 43.5 million Americans looked after a friend or relative age 50 or older in 2009, 28% more than in 2004. In a survey conducted for Home Instead Senior Care, a home-care franchiser, nearly 7% of respondents said they receive compensation for providing care to a relative.
Under federal law, when annual compensation exceeds $1,700, an employer and employee each owe federal payroll taxes of 6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare. The employer must generally also pay 6.2% on the first $7,000 in wages in federal and state unemployment tax, says Melissa Labant, a CPA with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Many factors contribute including the high unemployment rate, the rising cost of nursing-home care, an aging population and a 2006 change in Medicaid law that makes it difficult for people who wish to qualify to give away assets.
Two advocacy groups, the Arc of Texas and the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, filed a class-action lawsuit against Texas because more than 4,500 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are "trapped" in nursing homes recieiving inadequate care. The class would receive better care in a community-based facility or their own homes, but the state unfairly restricts access to the programs and services.
According to a 2010 report by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, Texas ranks 49th among 50 states in providing community-based services to people with developmental disabilities. The multibillion-dollar state budget shortfall will prompt lawmakers next year to cut spending in ways that will only exacerbate the problem. Mental health advocates say there is a long waiting list for spots in community-based programs that might better serve many people with disabilities.
Texas is violating the American with Disabilities Act, and not following the federal Nursing Homes Reform Amendments to the Medicaid Act which require states to screen residents of nursing homes for developmental disabilities to see if their needs can be served within the community or with less restrictive methods than at a nursing home. It also requires states to provide "specialized services and intensive treatment" so the developmentally disabled can live as independently as possible and to prevent regression.
Texas is not providing those services therefore the developmentally disabled have suffered regression or stagnation in nursing homes. A similar lawsuit in Massachusetts was successful and led to better care for more than 1,000 people.
NPR had another article in their series discussing alternatives to placing young disabled people in nursing homes. People ages 31 to 64 now make up the fastest-rising proportion of nursing home residents. Federal nursing home data shows that there are more than 6,000 young people up to the age of 21 living in American nursing homes. And there are thousands more who are in their early 20s. There are not enough programs that allow residents to leave a facility and return home or back to the community.
The article mentions a program called Money Follows the Person which can pay to renovate a house to make it more accessible for the disabled. Most of the 1.5 million people who live in nursing homes say they do not want to live in a facility. But leaving a nursing home isn’t easy.