Friday, June 26, 2020
Each day I get a email from Kaiser Health News (KHN) that contains articles collected from the prior day on various health topics. Since COVID-19 arrived, the number of articles concerning nursing homes has greatly increased. I've refrained from writing about those-mainly because there are so many of them. But here's a recent article that I felt was too important to pass by.
The New York Times,ran an article with this eye-popping headline: ‘They Just Dumped Him Like Trash’: Nursing Homes Evict Vulnerable Residents. "Nursing homes across the country are kicking out old and disabled residents and sending them to homeless shelters and rundown motels." The article makes the point that caring for COVID-19 patients is more lucrative than long-term care residents.
"Many nursing homes are struggling in part because one of their most profitable businesses — post-surgery rehab — has withered as states restricted hospitals from performing nonessential services. ... Treating Covid-19 patients quickly became a popular way to fill that financial void... Last fall, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid changed the formula for reimbursing nursing homes, making it more profitable to take in sicker patients for a short period of time. COVID-19 patients can bring in at least $600 more a day in Medicare dollars than people with relatively mild health issues, according to nursing home executives and state officials." Don't forget, however, that profit isn't the motive in every instance-remember back when the hospitals were jammed with COVID-19 patients and asked nursing homes to take some?
With SNFs shut down to outside visitors, Ombudsman visits may also be curtailed. And although the law requires that SNFs "find a safe alternative location for the resident to go, whether that is an assisted living facility, an apartment or, in rare circumstances, a homeless shelter... some homes have figured out a workaround: They pressure residents to leave. Many residents assume they have no choice, and the nursing homes often do not report them to ombudsmen." Only a handful of facilities have a moratorium on resident evictions during the pandemic.
Hello CMS-are you watching this?