The Wisconsin State Journal recently reported a tragic tale of greed and avarice.  An assisted living facility evicted a resident last month because she went on Medicaid, even though the facility said it would keep her once she was in the program if she first paid out of pocket for six months, which she did.  Pols went on Family Care, a state Medicaid program, in early June, after depleting her savings by paying nearly $30,000 to Heritage from December to June, Redmond said.

Jenny Pols’ involuntary discharge from Heritage Senior Living appears to be a wrongful eviction stemming from low Medicaid reimbursement rates. Facilities verbally pledge to keep residents after they go on Medicaid, but rarely put those promises in writing.

Pols, who received an involuntary discharge notice from Heritage June 25, moved last week to Willow Pointe, an assisted living facility in Verona.  Margo Redmond, Pols’ caretaker, said Heritage told Pols and Redmond in November that Pols could stay even after going on Medicaid if she first paid privately for six months. Redmond called the facility’s actions “fraudulent inducement.” Heritage on June 25 refunded about $6,000, apparently for Pols’ advance payment for June, Redmond said.

“I should have walked, but I had already heard from many people in the aging field that these facilities never put anything like that in writing,” she said. Pols, born in the Netherlands, worked in the United States as a nurses’ aide at a nursing home run by Redmond’s mother and became a family friend.

 The June 25 notice to Pols from Bobbi Stoltz, executive director of Heritage, said: “We are not required by law to continue residency for any individual once they convert to the Family Care Program and the lower monthly reimbursement rate. Therefore, we are issuing this 30-day Notice of Discharge.”

Heritage’s executive director at the time said Pols could stay once on Medicaid if she first paid privately for six months, Redmond said. When Redmond asked him to put that in writing, he said he couldn’t but shook hands in agreement, she said.

Amanda Runnoe, Heritage’s vice president of clinical and quality operations, told the Wisconsin State Journal in a statement that “there was discussion as to our commitment and efforts to retain current residents if and when they must transition to Medicaid reimbursement … but it was made very clear that we do not and can never make such a guarantee or promise.”

Most assisted living facilities in Wisconsin accept some residents on Medicaid, but facilities sometimes limit the number of such residents to remain financially viable, said John Sauer, president and CEO of LeadingAge Wisconsin, which represents assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Heritage is not a member of the association.
With assisted living becoming more widely used, consumers need to fight for their rights, Redmond said. “If enough of us say we’re walking unless we have something in writing, this will stop,” she said.

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