NPR had a great article about nursing homes abandoning residents at local hospitals driving up the cost of health care. Thousands of nursing home residents are told they cannot return to the facility after going to a hospital. In most cases, it’s a violation of federal regulations. But those rules are rarely enforced by the states. Nationwide, between 8,000 and 9,000 people complain to the government about nursing home evictions every year. It’s the leading category of all nursing home complaints, according to the federal Administration for Community Living. So, in California, some nursing home residents are suing the state, hoping to force it to take action.
“One of the plaintiffs is Bruce Anderson. Currently, he lives in a hospital room at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento. He’s been there since May 28, 2015. That’s when his former nursing home sent him to be treated for pneumonia. When he was cured, the nursing home refused to readmit him. The hospital hasn’t yet found him another nursing home to go to. So the hospital room has been his home for 260 days. The cost to Medicaid to keep him there is about 2.5 times what his nursing home cost.”
According to his former nursing home, Norwood Pines Alzheimer’s Care Center. Anderson was combative, a danger to the staff and other residents. That would have been a legal reason to discharge him. Yet Norwood Pines never tried to do that in the nearly four years Anderson lived there.
Anderson appealed to the California Department of Health Care Services, which oversees Medicaid. The department held a hearing, and she won. Norwood Pines was ordered to readmit her father. The nursing home still refused. Anderson wants a federal judge to make the state enforce its own rulings.
Robyn Grant thinks the problem is even larger than reported. Grant would know: She’s the public policy director for the nonprofit National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, so she hears about many nursing home evictions around the country like the ones in California.
“A lot of individuals, residents and their families, if they’re told, ‘You have to find another home,’ just accept what the people in authority tell them and don’t think they have any choices,” Grant says. “They may not know that they have rights to challenge that eviction.”