While it is no secret that nursing homes and their residents have been met with a slew of unprecedented challenges in 2020, a recent article from NPR, “For-Profit Nursing Homes’ Pleas For Government Money Brings Scrutiny,” revealed that some for-profit nursing homes have lined their pockets with COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) government aid money and let residential care fall below acceptable standards.
The business model of the average for-profit nursing home often divides assets between different operating companies essentially owned by the same individuals. Furthermore, for-profit nursing homes may then hire seemingly outside businesses to deliver other services — such as therapy and laundry services — that owners have a stake in as well. According to Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, this common practice is employed to protect assets in case a lawsuit is brought against the nursing home.
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With more than 70% of all the nation’s nursing homes being run as for-profit organizations, as professor emerita of Social Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco Charlene Harrington told NPR, it can be alarming to think that a majority of them could have their best interests at heart instead of their patients.
NPR provided the example of Aperion Care, a for-profit nursing home chain in the Midwest. Upon reviewing Aperion Care’s financial documents filed in the state of Illinois, nursing home real estate appraiser Jim Tellatin told NPR that these documents reveal some harrowing truths. For instance, Aperion Care owners have “paid themselves hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in annual rents for each building, though some of that could be going to pay mortgages.”
NPR further reported that Aperion Care nursing homes have low ratings of about 1 or 2 out of 5 from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Low marks complain of the centers being understaffed, a claim backed up by a whistleblower who told NPR that the center she works at is indeed understaffed. This makes it difficult and, frankly, impossible to care for all of the center’s residents, a fact that pains her because she cares deeply about each resident.
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While Aperion Care has said it can be difficult to find nursing staff, there is a disagreement about the true source of their low ratings. Aperion Care’s general counsel, Fred Frankel, argues that they have absorbed “some troubled facilities” during the pandemic and claims the rating system is prone to inaccuracy. Meanwhile, Harrington told NPR that the fault lies in the for-profit business model itself.
There is just as much contention about whether for-profit nursing homes’ lack of care or community spread are largely to blame for COVID-19 outbreaks in facilities — NPR claims it could be a combination of both.
Either way, United States nursing homes have received about $7.5 billion in federal coronavirus relief, not to mention the billions of dollars set aside in Paycheck Protection funds. They are now asking for additional relief money (totaling $100 billion) to be distributed between all United States health care providers, but should they be given this? As sources ask NPR, how can we ensure it is going toward patient care and the frontline workers risking their lives to provide that care?
About Ashcraft & Gerel
Since 1953, Ashcraft & Gerel has won more than a billion dollars in compensation for our injured neighbors in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. If you believe that you or your loved one is being subjected to substandard care because of greedy management, you have a right to pursue a legal claim.
Our firm has helped many clients fight against neglect and abuse in nursing homes. We understand how truly hard it can be to entrust the care of your loved one to a facility and have that facility ignore their legal and moral obligation. Even prior to the pandemic, for-profit organizations have routinely minimized patient care to maximize profit. We cannot sit idly by while they take advantage of our senior citizens. Let us fight for you and your family. We have the skills, knowledge, experience, and resources to do so effectively.
Contact Ashcraft & Gerel online today to request a free consultation.