Each year, thousands of residents are evicted illegally from nursing homes, and the problem is growing. In fact, federally mandated long-term care ombudsmen, who advocate for nursing home residents, find that these illegal evictions spur more complaints than any other issue. Even as the grievance numbers increase, this represents just a fraction of residents thrown out illegally.
Medicare vs. Medicaid
Medicare, the federal health insurance program for those 65 and over or younger people with certain disabilities, covers short-term nursing home care under particular conditions. Medicare Part A covers up to 100 days of skilled nursing home care, but the patient must enter the nursing home within 30 days after a hospital admission lasting at least three days.
A doctor must order the qualified nursing home care, and the patient requires daily care under the supervision of a skilled professional. The latter include nurses and physical therapists. When the facility determines the patient no longer needs care, Medicare coverage ends.
Medicaid is the federal program, run by each state, providing health care to low-income people, including long-term nursing home care. Such care is deemed “medically necessary.” Nursing homes do not have to accept Medicaid patients. Income and asset guidelines for Medicaid eligibility may vary by state.
Many of the residents evicted illegally from nursing homes are on Medicaid, and they are replaced by those on Medicare. Medicaid does not pay as high a per diem rate as Medicare, so nursing homes have a financial incentive to get rid of poor, elderly, and disabled individuals.
These discriminatory actions are illegal but happen far too often. A California nursing home advocate and attorney says he receives “panicked” calls daily from family members whose relatives receive such discharge notices, or from the frightened residents themselves.
Dumped on the Doorstep
Last March, Jamie Moore arrived home to find her mother-in-law, Glenda Moore, 67, in her house. The wheelchair-bound older woman was left unattended and ended up having an incontinence accident. She had been living at the Bishop Care Center nursing home in Bishop, California while recovering from back surgery. After her surgery, she was not able to walk or care for herself independently.
A few days before, nursing home administrators showed Glenda Moore a letter stating that her Medicare rehabilitation coverage was ending. Since Moore could not afford the $7,000 per month cost of the nursing home, she felt she had no alternative but leaving. Another relative dropped Glenda off at Jamie’s house but didn’t tell her daughter-in-law.
Glenda later found out she could have appealed Medicare’s decision but was not told that at the time of the discharge. She was also not informed that she could apply for Medicaid, for which she did qualify. The nursing home alleged Moore’s health improved, and she left Bishop Care Center voluntarily. Glenda Moore died on August 2 of cardiopulmonary arrest and renal failure. Her family feels if she had not been evicted illegally, she would not have become so ill.
When Eviction is Legal
Not every nursing home eviction is illegal. Facilities are permitted to evict residents when health improves, or when the nursing home cannot meet the person’s needs. A resident who endangers others may also face eviction. If residents cannot pay for care, the nursing home may evict them if they have not applied for Medicare or Medicaid.
Under federal law, nursing homes must give residents at least 30 days’ notice of eviction. The facilities are supposed to aid residents with a transition plan.
That is not what happened to Ronald Anderson at Los Angeles’ Avalon Villa Care Center in April 2018. The 51-year old diabetic says he was awoken in the middle of the night, told he was being evicted, and then was loaded into a van with his wheelchair and dumped on a downtown sidewalk. He was not provided with insulin or supplies. Anderson, who now lives at a rescue mission, says he was treated like garbage and easily could have died.
The Avalon Villa Care Center later paid $450,000 to settle a complaint by Anderson and other residents who were victims of similar illegal evictions.
Just One Fine
While nursing home evictions remain illegal under many circumstances, the Trump Administration has lessened federal penalties on these facilities. Previously, nursing homes were fined for each day a violation occurred, but a change in July 2017, now fines facilities just once per violation. This slap on the wrist means the dumping of the vulnerable will continue.
If you or a family member suffered a fall and was seriously injured or is being neglected in a nursing home, convalescent center or long-term living facility, call us today. All consultations are free, without obligation and confidential. We consider cases nationwide.
For more information, contact us online or by phone at 833.201.1555.