The L.A. Times reported that nursing homes continue to violate federal law by “dumping” residents. Los Angeles prosecutors accuse a Lakeview Terrace skilled nursing facility of illegally “dumping” old and disabled residents onto the street and into homes that are not equipped to care for them in order to increase profits amid the coronavirus epidemic.
The “sustained” and “intentional” misconduct by the facility comes as nursing homes have an incentive to dump long-term residents to make room for COVID-19 patients, for whom they are paid much more.
Under Medicare’s new guidelines nursing homes are paid substantially more for new patients, especially in the first few weeks of their stay. So COVID-19 patients can bring in more than $800 per day, according to nursing home administrators and medical directors interviewed by the Times. By contrast, facilities collect as little as $200 per day for long-term patients with dementia, the newspaper said.
“This creates an incentive for nursing homes to seek out residents with higher rates of reimbursement and ‘churn’ residents by any means possible,” prosecutor Feuer wrote.
In one instance an 88-year old man with dementia was transferred from the nursing home and was later found wandering the streets profoundly confused a day later, according to the court filing. Another resident with HIV who was dumped on the street instead of being provided the hospice care he needed wound up cowering in a friend’s backyard, hoping that would keep him safe from the pandemic, the complaint said.
Lakeview Terrace, which has the lowest possible quality rating from Medicare, has a troubled history. Last year the city attorney filed a complaint that accused the facility of patient dumping, failure to provide residents with necessary care, failure to protect their safety and failure to maintain accurate and complete medical records.
The home’s administrators agreed to pay $600,000 as part of that settlement, $150,000 of which would cover the cost of an independent monitor. The home appeared to cooperate at first, Feuer said in an interview with the Times, but after COVID-19 arrived all outside visitors were barred from the building, including the monitor. That’s when the situation deteriorated rapidly, Feuer said.