A terrible thing is happening at some nursing homes throughout the country. They are evicting some of their most vulnerable residents. These residents are being tossed out because the nursing homes want to make more money and/or they want to avoid dealing with patients who need extra care. Sometimes, evictions are illegal.
Nursing Homes Getting Rid of “Undesirable” Patients
Advocates for nursing home residents say that nursing homes are increasingly evicting residents who the homes see as “undesirable.” These include residents who need a lot of care or who show signs of dementia-related aggression. Also at risk of being evicted are residents whose relatives complain about the treatment the residents receive.
Many of the evicted residents are long-term Medicaid patients. Medicaid pays nursing homes less than other forms of payment. The nursing homes can make more money if they replace these patients with private-pay residents or with short-term Medicare rehabilitation patients. That means that patients are at risk of eviction if they were paying private rates, then went on Medicaid after exhausting their savings.
Scope of the Problem
According to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, complaints about evictions were the most common type of complaint about nursing home care. The number of complaints about evictions and discharges increased 57 percent from the year 2000 until 2014, the most recent year for which data is available.
Nursing Home Evictions Are Often Not Legal
Federal law only allows nursing homes to evict residents for certain specific reasons:
- The nursing home is closing down;
- A resident doesn’t pay;
- A resident endangers others;
- A resident doesn’t need nursing home services anymore; or
- The nursing home no longer meets a resident’s needs.
When nursing homes evict residents, they often cite that last reason, saying they can no longer meet the residents’ needs. Resident advocates, however, say that sometimes that is not true and that the nursing homes are bending the rules to their own advantage.
Federal law also guarantees that when nursing home residents have to be temporarily hospitalized, the nursing home must save their beds for them for up to a week. In practice, though, nursing homes sometimes get rid of unwanted patients by refusing to let them back into the nursing homes after their hospital stays.
The problem for Individual Residents and Society as a Whole
It can be heartbreaking when residents are evicted from nursing homes. They lose their familiar surroundings and the comforting company of the people they have been living with — their roommates, the people they eat meals with, and the people who take care of them.
It is also a problem for society as a whole. If patients are kept for needlessly long stays in hospitals because nursing homes have evicted them or won’t let them back in, the costs borne by Medicaid will be unnecessarily high.
What Can You Do?
If you have a loved one who has been evicted from a nursing home, you should consult with an attorney who focuses on nursing home issues to find out what your loved one’s legal rights are and what courses of action you can take. The Rooth Law firm will be glad to schedule a free appointment for you to come in and discuss your situation.