The choice to have a loved one enter an assisted living facility is a difficult one faced by many families throughout the country. These most vulnerable citizens are sadly at their most helpless when their family is away.
Patients living in nursing homes are often unable to care for their personal concerns and welfare. It is at this very moment of vulnerability that many nursing homes are taking the opportunity to evict their most difficult patients, which has caused a precipitous spike in nursing home evictions.
The New Nursing Home Abuse
A vast many of the reported nursing home evictions have happened while patients were admitted to the hospital for more serious care. Federal law requires nursing homes to save the room of a patient for a week if they are admitted to the hospital; however, many facilities have been bypassing this regulation and evicting patients while they are away.
If nursing homes are taking advantage of their most vulnerable and challenging patients, then that’s a problem that does not appear to be going away anytime soon. According to reports from the Associated Press, federal data shows that unlawful discharges have increased by 57% since 2000. In 2014, evictions were the most reported grievance of assisted living facilities, and 11,331 complaints were registered with officials. Nursing homes have maintained that many of the evicted patients were sent away because they presented a danger to other residents. Many of these evicted parties are considered the most difficult and complex patients receiving care in the facilities.
Federal Regulations and Medicare Funding
Nursing home administrators and staff claim these patients, if allowed to continue their stay, would stretch nursing home resources to their ultimate capacity. Leaving these elderly and ill patients without a proper long-term care facility is the newest form of nursing home abuse. Advocates are concerned that economically disadvantaged patients are those most at risk.
There is concern among advocates that the special circumstances needed to qualify for an unrequested transfer is too broad and allows for abuse by facilities that want to remove patients for other motives. There is a growing number of Medicaid recipients’ evictions that advocates fear are based solely on the economics of finding better-paying residents. Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements are significantly lower than the full fees typically paid by privately funded residents.
There are more than 1.4 million people occupying beds in 15,600 nursing homes across the United States. Nursing home complaints have been on the decline, but many nursing homes are ignoring the requirements of federal legislation enacted to protect patient rights.
The Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 is being ignored by many facilities that maintain these evictions are in the best interest of their overall patient population. Patient families are requesting the help of advocate groups and legal counsel to determine if nursing home administrators are violating the rights of these elderly and ill patrons.
The law allows for evictions or “unrequested transfers” in special circumstances. Under the following circumstances, a nursing home or assisted living center is legally protected to evict: if the patient is unable to pay, the facility is closed, the patient is recovered, the patient is a risk to other patients’ health and safety, or if the facility is not equipped to meet the patient’s needs.
If you have a family member living in a long-term care facility that has suffered nursing home abuse or has questions about their patient rights, then please contact the attorneys at Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, in Long Island, New York. We would like to discuss how we may offer legal support and solutions to you and your loved ones.