Recently, the government encountered an 11.1% mistake in Medicaid money paying for nursing home residents – taxpayers are overpaying nursing home companies and the government is fixing the mistake. Interestingly, complaints about this came from Wall Street. This trend is disturbing.
A recent article reported that “the Government Accountability Office last year found private investment firms have been buying nursing homes the past several years — resulting in a lack of transparency that make it impossible to know who is ultimately responsible for a home. Just as troubling was why they were buying homes: They are “reliable investment streams,” according to government investigators.”
The problem is with viewing nursing homes solely as “investment streams”, as the article points out, is that as residents “deplete their life savings to spend their final days in these homes, the financial sector looks on them as gold mines. And we know what that means. Just like any for-profit, public company, it means immense pressure on homes to cut expenses (think fewer workers) and increase profits (think higher dividends).”
You can read the full article online here.
While a true and proper non-profit can break even in any given year and declare it a successful year, a for-profit nursing home cannot. Staffing of good people in the proper numbers is usually the number one expense for a nursing home – and maybe the first to be cut.
If you have a family member in a nursing home, be sure the staffing is adequate. How long does it take to respond to a call bell? Is the resident getting help with eating if necessary? Is the resident getting turned and repositioned at least every two hours? If a nursing home is not doing its job, in New Jersey you can call the Department of Health and Human Services (1-800-792-9770) or the Ombudsman’s office (1-877-582-6995).