Sep 21, 2020 - Health

Nursing homes are evicting unwanted patients

Photos of nursing home workers.

Nursing home workers hold a vigil outside of the Downtown Brooklyn Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Nursing homes are finding ways to evict their most expensive patients — often by claiming those patients have psychiatric problems, the New York Times reports.

How it works: Nursing homes send patients to emergency rooms or psychiatric hospitals, claiming they need psychiatric care, and then refuse to let the patient return.

  • The nursing homes pounce "on minor outbursts to justify evicting them," NYT writes. The practice is sometimes in violation of federal law.
  • Officials in 16 states told the Times that nursing homes have continued dumping patients during the pandemic, with some saying the problem has gotten worse.

Between the lines: Most nursing homes are for-profit, and make the least money caring for the poorest and sickest patients.

  • They make the most from short-term patients who are privately insured or on Medicare. Poor people who are at the nursing home long-term are covered by Medicaid, which pays a significantly lower rate than Medicare or private insurance.
  • When Medicaid patients with conditions like dementia require extra care, that further exacerbates the financial imbalance between patients.

The bottom line: "Even before the pandemic, there was tremendous pressure to get rid of Medicaid patients, especially those that need high levels of staffing," Mike Wasserman, a former chief executive of Rockport Healthcare Services, told NYT. "The pandemic has basically supercharged that."

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