The Washington Post published an interesting article that sheds light on Mitt Romney’s plan to help those with preexisting conditions get health insurance. Romney claimed during the past debate, “I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions.” However, he is unable to articulate how it will help anyone other than those that have maintained continuous insurance coverage and it is still unclear how the 49 million uninsured individuals will get coverage.

As the article explains, the plan that Romney has been stressing will only help those with pre-existing conditions that have maintained continuous health insurance coverage. This means that anyone who may have had a break in coverage due to losing their job or for any other unforeseeable reason will not be helped at all by Romney’s plan.

After all of Romney’s talk about making it easier for those with pre-existing conditions to get coverage, in actuality only a small fraction of those with problem medical conditions will be helped, leaving a far greater number of people out of luck.

This plan is in stark contrast to President Obama’s health care law that allows those with preexisting conditions the same comprehensive coverage, at the same rates that every other citizen pays.  As the law says, an insurance company “may not impose any pre-existing condition exclusion.” Karen Pollitz, an insurance market expert, explains that Romney’s plan is much more unlikely to provide a solution than the president’s Affordable Care Act. Pollitz explains, “The ACA just says insurance companies can’t discriminate against you, period. If you’ve been uninsured, you can come into this market on Jan. 1, 2014, no questions asked.”

 

The Duluth News Tribune reported that a Minnesota nurse was recently found to have stolen hundreds of painkillers from 34 residents of a Ecumen nursing home and short-term rehabilitation center.  The thefts, which occurred undetected over a five-moth period, included the high power painkiller, oxycodone, among other drugs and totaled over 760 pills. The stealing was only brought to the attention of the facility after a resident who was not administered her oxycodone complained that she was “having extreme pain” without it.  It was found that the nurse who was taking the pills was signing out the pills without ever administering them to her residents

It is maddening to think that almost three dozen residents could have suffered in pain without their medicine while this selfish human being stole their pills.  This absolutely calls into question the quality of employees nursing homes are employing and management’s supervision.  Even worse, this incident of pill philfering is just one among many as can been seen by the increase in the number of drug thefts in Minnesota. In hospitals and nursing homes across the state the number of reported cases has increased by twice the rate they were in 2005. “The trend reflects what experts say is a nationwide surge of prescription drug abuse — in many cases by the very people entrusted with caring for patients.”
 

Jack Meyers was kind enough to write a guest article for us today.

If you have a parent or parents who need housing but do not have any income other than social security, you know how hard it is to find a place for them to live that they can afford. Many places have income limits they need to achieve before they can live there, and other ones, especially those that offer full time care, are so expensive that it is just ridiculous. However, there are two housing options that I know of for seniors with social security as their only means of income.

1. Income Based Senior Citizen Communities – The first option is income based. That means that the rent your parents pay every month is based on how much they receive from social security. It is usually very fair and leaves them enough money for food and other expenses. However, these communities usually do not offer the amenities or care that more expensive options do. Ideal for independent seniors, these communities also allow only those in a certain age bracket to live there, making it both safer and quieter than a normal apartment complex.

2. Individuals –Another option for seniors that cannot afford much is living in someone’s home. Often individuals are looking for someone to rent out a room or garage apartment for a very affordable price. An elderly, quite resident is ideal in that case. The only danger here is making sure that your parent is capable of taking care of themselves and that the person they will be sharing a house with is someone they get along with. Sometimes the rent can be further offset if your parent is willing to help with an elderly relative or child for a few hours during the day or night.
There are always ways of finding an affordable place to live. You just have to do a little research and maybe think outside the box. If your parent needs a place to live but does not have income aside from social security, then try one of these two ideas and see what you can find.
Author Bio:

Jack Meyer is a regular contributor for http://www.nannybackgroundcheck.com/. As a detective he wants to spread the knowledge of terrible things that can happen when people don’t fully verify the credentials of a caregiver or any employee. He also writes for various law enforcement blogs and sites.
 

In an article from The Washington Post, there was discussion of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s plans to cut funds for Medicaid, thereby leaving families to pay immense costs for nursing home care.  The article analyses claims that Romney raised nursing home charges eight times while he was the governor of Massachusetts.  He also instigated “a daily tax of under $10 a day on beds not covered by Medicare.  The presence of vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan does not help.  Ryan wrote the House GOP budget, part of which included limiting “federal contributions toward Medicaid.”   Mitt Romney stated that he supported Ryan’s plan.

It is estimated that the Romney-Ryan proposed grant system would make it impossible for 26 million people to be a part of the Medicaid program. It would also place a greater burden on the elderly who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of Medicaid. The plan would adversely affect seniors in nursing homes.

 

In Greenwood, Mississippi, a Leflore County grand jury has indicted a former employee at Golden Age Nursing Home in Greenwood on seven counts of illegally obtaining drugs while on duty. The Greenwood Commonwealth reported that 46-year-old Stephanie Ray Barton is accused of taking painkillers from residents. If convicted, the licensed practical nurse faces up to 35 years in prison.

Barton is accused of stealing Lorcet, a prescription painkiller containing hydrocodone, by signing for the drug on patients’ records and then keeping it.

 

The Park Ridge Patch reported the story about long term care providers in Illinois complaining about short staffing and how that affects the care provided to residents.  The union workers from  different facilities are seeking a new contract with the operation’s owners, a small pay raise and more staff on shifts.  Staffing was an issue emphasized by all of the picketers

"Maria Cordero, a certified nursing assistant at Alden Gardens of Des Plaines, said when workers are unable to fill their shifts, replacements are not put in place, and the burden of providing care to more patients is placed on the workers who are there. Cordero said in the building where she works, five nursing assistants are scheduled for the morning shift.  “The problem with the mornings is if somebody calls in, they don’t care, they just leave it to the employees,” Cordero said. “For example, if two CNA’s call in, only three CNA’s work. They don’t make that extra effort to look for someone to work.”

“What really gets me upset is they always leave us short-staffed,” Cordero said.

It’s all about the profit though.

In a story posted by the WFTV website, it was reported that the police of Winter Park, Florida, are searching for a woman stealing from nursing home residents by posing as a nurse.  Last month, she stole the credit card, identification card, and the Social Security number of a 92-year-old man living in the Winter Park Towers. She committed another similar act at a different nursing home in Seminole County, and authorities feel that there could be many other victims, as yet undiscovered. Since the Towers crime, she has managed to evade arrest, but the police found evidence of her spending her ill-gotten gains. She attempted to spend $4,000 at a local Target, as well as $600 at the Apple store.

Police authorities released photos of her, as well as the man accompanying her, which were taken from surveillance cameras. It is to be hoped that someone will recognize her from the photos.  Family members of Towers residents stated that they were all shocked by the depravity and shamefulness of such acts done to innocent, kind, and undeserving people.

In an article from The Daytona Beach News-Journal, it was reported that the Avante nursing home in Ormond Beach, Florida, has been “placed on a federal watch list of problematic nursing homes” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  If the home does not show any drastic improvement in its treatment of patients, it will become liable to fines and the termination of its Medicare and Medicaid payments or both programs.  Avante has been called “‘the nursing home hall of shame’” by Brian Lee, the executive director of Families for Better Care, which is an advocacy group for nursing home residents. For a considerable length of time, the home has had a steady stream of persistent and grave issues. One of these issues includes a sexual assault allegation which was neither reported nor investigated thoroughly. An Avante resident claimed that an “employee climbed into bed with her roommate”, but the roommate contradicted the truth of that statement.  Both the director and the attorney of Avante refused to comment.  However, investigators came to the conclusion that this cursory inspection revealed residents to be in peril.

People should take notice of this fact because there are only six nursing homes in Florida, out of about seven hundred, which are considered to be the subject of alert attention by the federal authorities.  Since the nursing home has been placed on the list, it will now become the focus of inspection twice as often as other nursing homes. Brian Lee has commented that nursing homes have no authority to officially “determine whether abuse occurred”, and that authorities should have been summoned.

Another of these issues involved the essential care of a resident.  Back in February, a man on a feeding tube vomited three times within a two-day period, yet his doctor received no notification of this incident, despite his request for such information in a treatment plan. On the third day, staff members found the man unresponsive and quickly rushed him to a hospital, where he was declared to be dead.  This man had not received proper care and attention.  The residents themselves, as well as their family members recently stated there are not enough staff members to provie the care needed.

Michael Stratton of Stratton Faxon wrote a great article on their blog The Connecticut Legal Examiner on how private investment groups use corporate shells to hide from liability and accountability.  Below is a reprint of the article.

"Private investment groups are replacing ‘mom and pop’ nursing home owners. Plaintiff lawyers may need to dig through the resulting complex ownership and management structures to identify – and hold accountable-the corporate entities that have harmed their clients

Private equity enterprise and large public companies are operating more nursing homes today, replacing the more traditional operators, individuals, and faith-based enterprises that are sensitive to the plight of the elderly.

With the continuing increase in demand for elder-care resources, these entrepreneurs are often more concerned with profits than resident care. And because occupancy levels in nursing homes are already high and government reimbursement rates are capitated, some ”vulture capitalists” try to increase their bottom line by lowering costs. This usually translates into cutting staff, since labor is the largest cost-component of the nursing home budget.

Because the nursing home business is primarily service oriented, cutting staff usually means cutting service. That, in turn, translates into poor resident care. When the quality of care suffers, the nursing home operator’s liability increases in both the civil and administrative arenas, to mitigate their exposure for potential liability, nursing home operators resort to complex corporate strategies to limit their liability.

The cornerstone of the nursing home industry’s “escape and evasion” strategy is creating an amalgamation of single purpose enterprises (SPEs) to prevent litigants from obtaining judgments against people or entities other than the nursing home licensee. The licensee is typically just a shell company. Nursing home operators have found that numerous SPEs are less attractive defendants than a single company with multiple operating interests and multiple real estate holdings.

Under the SPE structure, nursing home revenues are often placed into centralized accounts under the parent company’s control. Payments are made from those accounts on behalf of the individual nursing homes without regard to the revenues a particular facility generates. Monies are used for myriad purposes unrelated to resident care, including acquiring new facilities and servicing the debts of the parent and affiliated companies. Dividends are rarely paid to the parent by its subsidiaries because the parent has unlimited access to the funds in the centralized account.

Identifying the real culprit at the root of nursing home abuse is no easy task. It requires hard work, determination, and perseverance. Focus your case on the misconduct of these corporate predators. Even with the advent of more stringent disclosure provision, the nursing home industry will continue to obfuscate when it comes to identifying the parties that are truly responsible for the management and operational decisions in nursing homes."

 

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The Commercial Observer had an interesting article on the recent litigation involving Sava owners and operators and how expert accountants were needed to explain the complex web of corporate shell games. Two top forensic accountants were retained in a decisive battle in a legal war for control of about 170 nursing homes.

"The trial in New York Supreme Court had its origins eight years ago, when real estate investor Ruby Schron teamed up with his lawyer, Leonard Grunstein, in a labyrinthine $1.3 billion leveraged buyout that created SavaSeniorCare. At issue for the two expert witnesses: the exact whereabouts of $100 million."  In the nursing home case, the accounting helped determine that Mr. Schron could acquire the company without any further investment by simply assuming the debt. On Mr. Schron’s side was Harvey R. Kelly. Providing expert testimony for Defendants was David S. Williams. The rival accountants’ task was to sort out transactions among some 30 people and entities involved in the buyout, as well as the movement of money through an escrow account from entities on Mr. Schon’s side of the deal to Mr. Grunstein and his companies, to establish whether, and how much of, the money was lent.  The case, which hinged on how much money from a $100 million loan by Mr. Schron actually found its way to Sava. The accountants in Schron v. Grunstein were more than $110 million apart in their estimates of how much money was lent.

"In 2004, Mr. Grunstein and investment banker Murray Forman approached Mr. Schron with a proposal to buy Mariner Health Care Inc., a public company that operated more than 250 nursing homes and owned real estate associated with about 170 of them."  “Grunstein and Forman proposed a complex transaction employing a ‘PropCo/OpCo’ structure whereby Old Mariner’s real estate would be separated from the nursing home operations.”

A newly formed company, National Senior Care Inc., bought all of the shares of Old Mariner, then sold the real estate to one of Schron’s companies, SMV. That entity then leased the properties to another newly formed company, SavaSeniorCare, controlled by Mssrs. Grunstein and Forman. National Senior Care retained the operations of about 100 nursing homes located on properties that were leased from third parties.

While neither Mr. Grunstein nor Mr. Forman put any of his own money into the deal, Mr. Schron raised about $1.1 billion in financing, acquiring real estate valued at about $800 million. According to documents signed at closing, the financing included a $100 million loan to the owner of Sava that gave him an option to acquire the company, the judge wrote.

Mr. Kelly said a promissory note signed by both sides at the time of closing—and amended and restated in 2006 when a second, $20 million loan was made—was the best evidence that the loan existed. And he said documents showed that the nursing home company had made use of the money, including making a $65 million loan to the “New Mariner” entity on the day of the transaction.

Documents included “audited financial statements of SavaSeniorCare that an outside independent audit firm rendered the opinion that [an entity controlled by Mr. Grunstein] had contributed $100 million,” he said. “So, you’ve got years’ worth of very consistent documents demonstrating that. I find that the most credible evidence.”

The biggest problem Murray Forman and Leonard Grunstein had was their obvious lack of credibility.  “Apart from the fact that all of the documentary and non-party witness evidence contradict their testimony, their evasive answers and manner on the witness stand left the court with a firm belief that both gave testimony that was less than candid,” the judge wrote. He ordered the defendants to proceed with the transfer of control of the company “without further delay.”