Some 270 nursing home caregivers, members of 1199SEIU, who work as certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, dietary aides, housekeepers, and activity aides are going on a 24-hour strike at 5 a.m., this Friday, June 23. because of the infamous Michael Konig.

Nursing home operator Konig, once dubbed “landlord from hell” by the New York Daily News and with a decades-long legal history—including payouts to resolve allegations of resident neglect and failure to abide by wage and hour laws—is now under fire for poor working conditions and unfair labor practices at three NJ facilities.

          Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg has issued the following statement on the upcoming strike: “Nursing facilities which receive significant funding from public tax dollars have an obligation to use those resources with the utmost responsibility.  The women and men who do back-breaking work caring for our elderly loved ones deserve fair treatment and respect.  Michael Konig must bargain in good faith with his employees and reach a settlement that values these caregivers for their essential work.”

Nursing home workers who are members of 1199SEIU have announced a 24-hour strike at three facilities operated by Michael Konig, owner of Broadway Healthcare Management, to protest unfair labor practices and demand that their employer invest in better jobs and staffing levels for caregivers.

Each of the three nursing homes—Amboy Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Perth Amboy, ManhattanView Nursing Home in Union City, and Teaneck Nursing Center in Teaneck—has staffing levels for certified nursing assistants (CNA) that fall below state averages on a majority of shifts, according to data from the NJ Department of Health.  CNAs are responsible for providing direct care at the bedside, including feeding, dressing, and bathing residents.  The overnight shifts are especially understaffed, with levels within the bottom fifth of all nursing homes in the state.  Caregivers say lack of sufficient staff makes it difficult to provide the type of quality, one-on-one care that residents need.

Residents want to get up at a certain time of day, but sometimes they’re stuck in bed because we’re so short-staffed and there’s no one available to assist them,” said Cerese Abraham, a certified nursing assistant at Teaneck. “Short staffing is becoming the norm.  A lot of us have high blood pressure from all the stress that brings—one CNA even passed out during a recent heat wave because she was so overworked.”

Earlier this year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued complaints against all three facilities for failing to bargain in good faith with the workers’ union, 1199SEIU.  After a thorough investigation, the NLRB also charged the nursing homes with failing to make the required contributions into the employees’ education fund.  And at Amboy Nursing and Rehab, the NLRB has issued a complaint for the company’s failure to make the necessary contributions into the employees’ health benefit fund, which resulted in some workers being left without health insurance.  A similar investigation regarding employee health benefits is currently underway at ManhattanView.  All of the charges are being consolidated into a single case by the NLRB, for a trial slated to take place later this summer.

For months, nursing homes operated by Michael Konig have engaged in a pattern of unethical and illegal behavior that violates employees’ rights and jeopardizes their ability to deliver quality care to their patients,” said Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU.  “It is incredibly irresponsible for Mr. Konig to force caregivers into a position where striking is the last option they have.  We do not want to strike, but we cannot allow this employer to undermine job standards in nursing homes.”

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1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in New Jersey and nationwide. We represent over 16,000 healthcare families in New Jersey and over 400,000 total members throughout New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, and Washington, D.C.   Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.

POLITICO/Morning Consult polling indicates TrumpCare has become less popular since the House advanced it in early May. As the GOP Senate prepares to vote, only 35 percent of voters surveyed approve of the bill passed by the House last month. Nearly half of voters, 49 percent, disapprove of the bill. The other 16 percent don’t know or don’t have an opinion, the poll shows.

Among Republican voters, 30 percent disapprove of the GOP health care bill. That is up from 15 percent of Republicans disapproving in early May.  Independent swing voters– 53% disapprove of the bill: only 26 % approve.

SavaSeniorCare is once again accused of defrauding the government by accepting kickbacks, the original Complaint filed in 2015 was unsealed, revealing that the whistleblower who filed the suit believed the core motivation behind the scheme was revenge on a competitor.  The rest of the filings in the case remain sealed except for the original complaint, as the decline of the governments to intervene triggers the unsealing.

The whistleblower who originally filed the case two years ago, August Bogina III, said in the complaint that he was personal friends with one of the men integral to the scheme, Michael Tutera, who died in 2010. According to Bogina, Tutera was one of two men who ran an insurance brokerage business in Kansas City, and was caught up in the alleged scheme when he and his business partner, Brian Davidson, became acquainted with Jimmy Abrams a principle owner of Illinois-based medical supply company Medline.

Davidson became the point man for a deal in which the three men teamed up in order to get nursing home chain SavaSeniorCare business with the skilled nursing facilities. To kick off the partnership, Davidson allegedly met with Sava owner Murray Forman in New York City in 2005, and the two exchanged a briefcase full of $100 bills, which Bogina said could have been $50,000. The money, which was provided by Medline and given to Davidson to give to Forman, was just the second part of the deal.

In another twist, Forman allegedly told Davidson that he wanted to “exact revenge” on rival skilled nursing facility chain Triad, which Forman said had burned him in a real estate deal a few years earlier.

“To exact such revenge on Triad, Davidson and Tutera met Abrams and proposed a business arrangement whereby Abrams would provide the money necessary to purchase several mortgage notes on real estate where Triad nursing homes were located,” the unsealed complaint said.

Medline’s Abrams allegedly provided $2 million to fund a limited liability company in Texas, Texas LLC, run by a man named John Connolly in order for the company to purchase the mortgage notes on real estate where Triad nursing homes were located. Then shortly after the purchase of the three mortgage notes, Connolly, acting through the Texas LLC, declared Triad in default on the mortgage notes, according to the unsealed complaint.

“With Triad declared in default on mortgages on three properties, Forman was ecstatic with Davidson, Tutera, and Abrams,” the complaint said. “Their roles in the Triad ‘take down’ induced Forman to pursue, on behalf of Sava-Mariner, an agreement for Sava-Mariner to purchase its [durable medical equipment] for its nursing homes from Medline, rather than from its DME supplier at that time, Gulf South Medical Supply.

In order to induce Sava-Mariner to purchase medical supplies from Medline instead of Gulf South, Medline paid illegal remuneration in the form of bribes and kickbacks to Forman, Tutera and Davidson, according to the complaint.

It’s not clear why the governments did not intervene in the case, triggering the unsealing of the complaint. But this complaint is not alone in cases against SavaSeniorCare. A trio of 2015 cases that was consolidated in Tennessee federal court alleges that SavaSeniorCare billed Medicare for unnecessary rehabilitation therapy services in violation of the False Claims Act.

According to the complaint, SavaSeniorCare LLC would pressure its facilities to meet unrealistic financial goals, which would lead to employees’ providing “medically unreasonable, unnecessary and unskilled services” that it would bill to Medicare. Between October 2008 and September 2012, Medicare paid Sava $1.4 billion for inpatient services, the suit claims.

The case is U.S., ex rel, et al. v. Savaseniorcare Administrative Services LLC, et al., case number 1:15-cv-04763 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

FiveThirtyEight analyzed who TrumpCare’s tax cuts would benefit. One such tax is a 0.9 percent payroll tax on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year, often referred to as the Medicare surcharge. The other is a 3.8 percent tax on net investment income, also for people who earn more than $200,000.1 These taxes largely affect the top 5 percent of earners, with the majority of the money collected coming from the top 1 percent of earners.

The final bill will include hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans. The cuts would go disproportionately to Democratic-leaning states.  The eight states that paid the most in 2014, six voted for Hillary Clinton in last year’s presidential election.  Those six states collectively accounted for 47 percent of all the money raised by the taxes in 2014.  Only the top 1.4% of South Carolina citizens pay the tax.

That pattern holds when we look at all states and the District of Columbia, too: These taxes as a whole — both in terms of dollar amounts paid and the share of people paying them — are largely coming from states that leaned Democratic in the 2016 election.  In all, states that voted for Clinton paid $17.3 billion, which is 59.9 percent of the combined ACA-related taxes. In short, in repealing these taxes, Republican senators would be giving tax breaks predominantly to states that favor their Democratic opponents.

One way to think about the tradeoffs of the ACA is to look at how many of a state’s residents directly benefited from the law (via tax credits or the Medicaid expansion) relative to how many paid the investment tax. That ratio shows that in certain red states, many more people are receiving financial support from the law than paying for it. In 2014, the three states with the highest ratio of beneficiaries to investment-tax payers were all won by Trump: West Virginia, Kentucky and Arkansas. In those three states, for every person who paid the investment tax, more than 16 people benefited directly from either the Medicaid expansion or the tax credit that subsidizes premiums on private plans.

The Advocate reported on the shenanigans in Louisiana.  A House bill intended to create a safety net for the mentally ill got an unexpected rider that would limit competition for Louisiana nursing homes.

Sens. Fred Mills, R-Parks, and Jay Luneau, D-Alexandria, asked the Senate to approve the amendment for House Bill 402, which had already passed the House floor and a Senate health committee.  The amendment, which is totally unrelated to the original bill, was written to extend a 5-year moratorium on “Level 4” assisted living facilities that provide a more independent level of care for people with higher medical needs.  The moratorium effectively blocks private-pay assisted living facilities from entering the market.

Mills, who owns a stake in a nursing home, said he asked for the amendment at the behest of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association. He said he agreed with the association that the moratorium was needed.

Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, said he completely opposed the concept of a moratorium, believing the intention was to eliminate businesses that compete with nursing homes.

“I believe that because it was the nursing home industry that lobbied for the amendment,” he said.

Meanwhile, another Advocate article states that the AARP Foundation released its national scorecard for elderly services, cementing Louisiana’s status as one of the worst places in the nation to grow old. Overall, Louisiana ranked 40th in the nation for long-term care services, a drop from 37th from 2014, when the report was last updated. And in two of the categories that address nursing homes, Louisiana couldn’t get much worse: It ranked 50th for “quality of life and quality of care,” and 51st — behind every other state plus Washington D.C. — in how effectively people are transitioned out of nursing homes into their preferred communities.

The newest scorecard noted disapprovingly that Louisiana had the highest percentage of nursing-home residents receiving anti-psychotic medication. More than 21 percent of nursing home residents received the medication, compared to a national median of 16.8 percent.

Louisiana nursing homes were also among the worst — 49th in the nation — for high-risk residents with bed sores. Louisiana also ranked near the bottom for the proportion of new nursing-home stays that last 100 days or more, and the percentage of nursing-home residents who are hospitalized.

 

 

 

 

NJ.com reported that three certified nurse aides were indicted over claims they abused patients at residential care facilities across the state, authorities said. The caregivers were charged in separate indictments according to the state Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.

Danny Brown worked at Lopatcong Care Center nursing home. Brown was witnessed by coworkers punching a 53-year-man in a wheelchair and threatening to break his neck. Brown was indicted on third-degree charges of making terroristic threats and endangering another person.

Cairy Chrisphonte is accused of hitting an an 87-year-old dementia patient in the head and arm in front of coworkers at the Daughters of Miriam nursing home. She faces charges of fourth-degree assault upon an institutionalized elderly person.

Debra L. Matela was caught on a surveillance camera kicking a wheelchair out from under a 73-year-old woman at the Northbrook Behavioral Health Hospital. She was charged with third-degree aggravated assault.

“We are putting the health care community on notice that we are prepared to use every law available to protect New Jersey’s elderly and disabled patients from abuse,” said acting state Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Christopher Iu in a statement.

Last year, state Attorney General Christopher Porrino announced a new program loaning out hidden cameras to New Jersey residents who fear their elderly and infirm relatives are being abused by home care workers. State authorities later expanded the program, “Safe Care Cam,” to include patients at residential facilities as well.

 

Vox had a great article on how TrumpCare contradicts Trump’s campaign promises on health care.  Candidate Trump was a different kind of Republican; more heterodox on core domestic policy issues. He was going to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security from cuts and replace the Affordable Care Act with a “terrific” new system that would “cover everyone” and offer the lower premiums and deductibles the American people wanted.

“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump told the conservative Daily Signal way back in May 2015. “Every other Republican is going to cut, and even if they wouldn’t, they don’t know what to do because they don’t know where the money is. I do.”

His promises got even bigger. “I am going to take care of everybody,” he told 60 Minutes. “I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

In an interview with the Washington Post, he said that Trumpcare would feature “insurance for everybody,” in contrast to an ACA that, while bringing the uninsurance rate to a historic low, has still left 25 million people without coverage. The plans, he said, would have “much lower deductibles.” And ability to pay, he said, wouldn’t be an issue. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”

The only problem is that it’s all lies. Trump’s health care plan doesn’t protect Medicaid, it loots it to finance hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts.”

“In addition to slashing the Medicaid rolls by millions, the Trump health care plan will see millions more lose coverage, and the remainder will face higher premiums for plans that cover less.”

The “mean” cuts to Medicaid — reducing enrollment by a staggering 14 million — are particularly cruel in light of Trump’s explicit promise not to do this. His budget proposal for the next fiscal year includes even more Medicaid cuts that, paired with AHCA, would cut the program nearly in half.

There’s nothing remotely “terrific” about it, unless you happen to be one of the small number of high-income Americans who can expect to reap a large tax cut paid for by the suffering of millions of newly uninsured people. The centerpiece of Trumpcare is a $600 billion tax cut. Families with incomes below $208,500 per year will see their taxes fall by an average of $0 per year, receiving none of that money. But members of the top 0.1 percent of the income distribution — households with an annual income of more than $3.75 million — will see their taxes fall by an average of $165,090 per year.

 

Today, Obamacare provides tax credits to lower- and middle-income families in order to make coverage more affordable. The House bill provides tax credits, too, but they would be much less generous for many households, because they’re based on age rather than income. Because the CBO only tried to forecast premiums before tax credits in its analysis, it didn’t actually tell us whether families would be paying more or less on average for their insurance.

Turns out they will be paying more. The Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its own score of the House bill. It finds that gross premiums—that is, before tax credits kick in—would fall 13 percent by 2026. However net premiums—that is, after tax credits—would rise 5 percent, because the law’s subsidies would simply be worth less. What’s more, average out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and co-pays would skyrocket 61 percent, in large part because the law ends the Obamacare rules that limit those expenses for poorer families. Overall, people will simply be paying more for their coverage and care ($162 a month more, on average, to be precise).

These are also only average effects. In the end, the House bill will mean different things for different Americans. Premiums before subsidies will go down for younger, healthy customers and way up for people in their sixties, because the AHCA increases the amount insurers can charge older enrollees compared to people in their twenties. If states waive the Essential Health Benefits rules, people who need more services (like women who want childbirth coverage) will pay a lot more for them. Some upper-middle-class households that were never eligible for Obamacare’s subsidies could come out ahead, meanwhile, because they would qualify for the House bill’s tax credits.

The Atlantic had an interesting article on how and why top congressional Republicans are begging Trump to stop sabotaging the health insurance markets. Trump has refused to guarantee that it will pay the subsidies, which are known as “cost-sharing reduction payments” and help insurers keep down deductibles for low-income customers while still making a profit.

The decision has infuriated insurers, and several companies have cited the uncertainty caused by the administration as the reason for exiting Obamacare exchanges in certain states and counties.

Republicans in Congress are now joining the effort to pressure Trump to make the payments. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander urged the administration to continue payments of subsidies to insurance companies that are considered crucial to the individual market and preventing sharp premium increases.

These payments will help to avoid the real possibility that millions of Americans will literally have zero options for insurance in the individual market in 2018,” Alexander told Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services.

 

Under questioning by Alexander, Price refused to make any commitments on the subsidies. Other administration officials have said they are deciding on the payments on a month-to-month basis, but insurers face a June 21 deadline for determining whether they will stay in the Obamacare marketplaces in 2018. “I don’t know how insurance companies can operate when they don’t even know whether these payments are going to be available a week from now,” said Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Everything is being done by this administration to sabotage the ACA so they can go out and essentially lie and say, ‘Oh see, it’s not working’ after they’ve made every effort to sabotage it,” Pallone said in a recent interview.

The requests from Alexander and Brady are also the latest evidence of tensions between the president and Republicans lawmakers as the party struggles to enact a replacement for Obamacare.  Trump reportedly decried the bill as “mean” in a private meeting with Senate Republicans this week. Price awkwardly refused to repeat his endorsement of the House proposal. “It’s not a yes or no answer,” the secretary replied when Murray asked if he agreed with Trump’s criticism of the bill.

 

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported the arrest of James Royce Weber charged with raping a resident who has dementia.  Farmington police were called to Presbyterian Manor last month after concerns were raised by a visitor. Police say that after Weber left the room of a 74-year-old resident, a supervisor went into the room and found her partially unclothed.

 The woman told authorities she had intercourse with Weber. Police say Weber admitted to having sex with the resident on two occasions about three weeks apart.