Exploitation by nursing homes is hitting an all-time high or an all-time low, whichever way you want to look at it. According to this in-depth report by the Wall Street Journal, nursing homes across the country are trying to evict frail and ill residents and replacing them with shorter term residents who are likely to bring in more revenue.
What does the law say? Can nursing homes actually kick out the weak and vulnerable to make a quick buck? Federal law and state laws are supposed to protect nursing home residents from eviction. But the loophole in the law is that these laws don’t protect residents of assistant living facilities.
Particularly vulnerable to eviction are those who are dependent on Medicaid. Still, patient advocates and state officials say many nursing homes are crossing the line when they use some excuse to get rid of those residents who are simply inconvenient or too expensive to keep on such as those with dementia or those who depend on Medicaid to pay their bills.
According to statistics from the Federal Administration on Aging, discharge-related complaints in assisted living homes more than doubled in the 10 years preceding 2006, rising 177 percent. Some states such as New Jersey and Washington are legally pursuing assisted living companies accused of forcing out Medicaid residents. Nursing home owners apparently don’t believe those numbers. Some owners argue that evictions are uncommon and happen either with patients who are too hard to care for, which the facility is not equipped to handle, or if patients just don’t pay their bills.
According to federal law, the elderly can only be evicted from nursing homes if
1.They are well enough to go home 2. Need care that the facility is not equipped to handle 3. Endanger the health of others 4. Endanger the safety of others 5. Fail to pay their bills 6. If the facility shuts down
Even if a nursing home has these reasons to back up the patient’s eviction, they are required to give residents at least a 30-day notice, explain their appeal rights and put together a plan to ensure that the move does not harm the patient.
Residents’ families should not allow nursing homes and assisted living facilities to get away with these evictions. If the eviction does not meet the above criteria, families should consider consulting an experienced nursing home abuse or negligence attorney and taking the facility to court. Victims may also consider filing a complaint against the facility. To find out the procedures for filing a complaint, please visit the California Advocated For Nursing Home Reform’s website.