Nursing homes nationwide that were not meeting even basic requirements to look after their residents charged taxpayers billions of dollars. The Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general said Medicare paid about $5.1 billion for patients to stay in skilled nursing facilities that failed to meet minimum quality of care rules in 2009, in some cases resulting in dangerous and neglectful conditions. One out of every three times patients wound up in nursing homes that year, they landed in facilities that failed to follow basic care requirements laid out by the federal agency that administers Medicare, investigators estimated.
By law, nursing homes need to write up care plans specially tailored for each resident, so doctors, nurses, therapists and all other caregivers are aware how to help residents reach the highest possible levels of physical, mental and psychological well-being. This is not done. Neglect is rampant. Investigators estimate that in one out of five stays, patients’ health problems weren’t addressed in the care plans, falling far short of government directives.
The government spends taxpayer money on facilities that actually endangers people’s health. In other cases, residents got therapy they didn’t need, which the report said was in the nursing homes’ financial interest because they would be reimbursed at a higher rate by Medicare.