In fact, nursing home eviction is the top complaint among residents. My Elder aims to protect the rights of the elders and prevent illegal nursing home evictions.
Under state and federal laws, nursing homes can only evict patients for a limited set of reasons and are supposed to face serious civil penalties if they break the law and force residents out on the street.
However, these same caregivers have very intimate knowledge of the regulatory system and often interpret resident behavior in such a manner that would allow the facility to expel an individual who otherwise would have remained with the care facility.
People complain about nursing homes a lot: the food’s no good, or there’s not enough staff, and so on. It’s a long list, but the top complaint according to the federal government, is nursing home eviction or nursing home involuntary discharge.
Nursing home eviction, or technically known as nursing home involuntary discharge brought in more than 9,000 complaints in 2015 alone. Now, a couple of states are looking for ways to hold nursing homes accountable for unnecessary evictions.
One of those states is Maryland. Brian Frosh, the state’s attorney general, says that, in Maryland, more than half of all nursing home involuntary discharges have come from just one small chain of nursing homes run by Neiswanger Management Services, or NMS Healthcare. “Your odds of getting evicted from an NMS nursing home are about a hundred times what they are of any other nursing home in the state,” says Frosh.
Maryland is now suing NMS for Medicaid fraud. The suit alleges that the company charged the state for services it didn’t deliver, specifically for discharge planning. Nursing homes are supposed to make sure a resident has a safe place to go. But Frosh says that NMS sent residents with complex medical needs to homeless shelters or to unlicensed board-and-care facilities.
For example, according to the complaint, a woman with severe dementia was dropped off in front of her son’s home. Someone from NMS “just opened the car door and let her out and drove away,” says Frosh. “Her son found her wandering around several hours later when he came home from work.” This is clearly an illegal nursing home eviction or nursing home involuntary discharge.
The company’s motivation was purely financial, says Frosh. To understand his argument you need to know two things. First, Medicare pays nursing homes a lot more than Medicaid does. And, second, Medicare payments for long-term care only last for 100 days, and can only be used for skilled nursing care. Frosh says that NMS evicted hundreds of residents just as they were transitioning from Medicare to the lower-paying Medicaid.
“We cite emails in the complaint that offer a bounty for getting patients out quickly,” says Frosh. “A hundred bucks is offered for somebody who can make a bed vacant within two hours.” That made more room for new patients who were on Medicare. Attorneys for NMS did not make anyone available to NPR for comment. But, in court documents, the company calls the state’s charges false, reckless and inflammatory.
In Illinois, concern over nursing home evictions or nursing home involuntary discharges goes way beyond a single nursing home chain. That’s because nursing home evictions in the state have more than doubled in the last five years for which data is available. State Sen. Daniel Biss has sponsored legislation to crack down on nursing homes that improperly discharge residents. It would also beef up enforcement of staffing standards.
“We’re seeing nursing homes that have made a financial decision that they would like a certain type of resident,” says Biss. He means residents who are compliant and don’t require too much staff time, and when a nursing home has a resident who doesn’t fit the mold “they’re able to essentially drop them at the hospital and walk away,” Biss says.
My Elder provides elder advocacy services to families. Talk to us about long-term planning, finding the right home for your loved ones, preventing crisis and abuse, preventing nursing home eviction or nursing home involuntary discharge, and ensuring they receive the best care possible.