Modern Healthcare had an interesting article about the use of evictions by nursing homes to get rid of “difficult” residents or those residents who do not generate enough profit for the nursing home facility. Rather than a long-term Medicaid patient, many facilities would prefer to fill a bed with a private-pay resident or a short-term rehabilitation patient, whose care typically brings a far higher reimbursement rate under Medicare.
Complaints and lawsuits across the U.S. point to a spike in evictions. Those targeted for eviction are frequently poor and suffering from dementia, according to experts and consumer advocates. Removing them makes room for less labor-intensive and more profitable patients. Manpower levels are another factor, according to Charlene Harrington, a University of California-San Francisco professor whose research has focused on nursing homes.
“These worst homes are allowed to have staffing at just dangerously low levels,” she said. “If they had staffing at the level that’s recommended, they wouldn’t be having problems with these patients.”
Federal law allows unrequested transfers of residents for a handful of reasons: the facility’s closure; failure to pay; risk posed to the health and safety of others; improvement in the resident’s condition to the point of no longer needing the home’s services; or because the facility can no longer meet the person’s needs.
“It’s not just losing their home. It’s losing their whole community, it’s losing their familiar caregivers, it’s losing their roommate, it’s losing the people they sit with and have meals with,” said Alison Hirschel, an attorney who directs the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative and has fought evictions. “It’s completely devastating.”
An Associated Press analysis of federal data from the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program finds complaints about discharges and evictions are up about 57 percent since 2000. It was the top-reported grievance in 2014, with 11,331 such issues logged by ombudsmen, who work to resolve problems faced by residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other adult-care settings.
That is often because the resident came to be regarded as undesirable — requiring a greater level of care, exhibiting dementia-induced signs of aggression, or having a family that complained repeatedly about treatment, advocates say.
“What they look for and what they want is basically the family to drop Grandpa off at the front door and not be involved,” he said. “They don’t want anybody monitoring them, they don’t want anybody complaining. They just want to take care of that person until they die and collect that check.”
“It’s an epidemic,” said Sam Brooks, who has litigated evictions for Community Legal Services of Philadelphia. “It’s a hard thing to catch and it’s a hard thing to enforce.”
The numbers of both nursing homes and residents in the U.S. have decreased in recent years; about 1.4 million people occupy about 15,600 homes now.