I came across a news report in the Des Moines Register that shows how nursing homes with a history of abuse, negligence and other past violations receive hundreds of millions of your taxpayer dollars as bonuses. According to this eye-opening investigative report, a review of 81 bonus payment programs in 36 states shows that some nursing homes are collecting “quality-of-care bonuses” handed out by the same federal agency that considers them to be below-average caregivers.
In addition to this nonsense, more than 60 existing bonus programs help nursing homes do what they are already required to do under the law such as pay minimum wage or install fire safety sprinklers for the safety of their residents. The newspaper gives the example of Grace Living Center in Norman, Oklahoma, which earned almost $96,000 in bonuses over the last one year and is considered a “five-star” nursing home by the state. Still, it has been cited for more violations than the state and national average. What’s more – Medicare ranks the home “below average” on 11 out of 19 national quality measures.
What the heck is going on here? This is ridiculous to say the least! It’s like telling the negligent nursing homes: “Yes, you do a horrible job of taking care of your customers who pay good money for your services, but we’re going to be giving you bonuses anyway.” Not only does it make no sense, but it is terribly confusing to consumers.
Also, who determines which nursing homes get these bonuses and how they are allocated? Does this list of lucky recipients also include for-profit nursing homes? All these are valid and important questions taxpayers need to ask and get answers to. This shocking report comes at a time when nursing home negligence and abuse are at an all-time high and at a time when a large number of our senior population is heading toward one of these facilities. More than 1.5 million people already live in nursing homes and nationwide, about one-fifth of the homes were cited for serious deficiencies last year.
It is appalling that these facilities, which have failed to focus on patient care, are receiving hefty bonuses at a time when the entire world is reeling from an economic crisis. This is all the more reason why we need to hold negligent nursing homes accountable for their actions.