Some nursing homes evicting unprofitable patients by claiming they have psych issues

Some nursing homes may send poor residents requiring extra care to emergency rooms or psychiatric hospitals and then deny them reentry, according to The New York Times.

The NYT examined court filings and government-funded watchdogs and talked to lawyers, physicians and nursing home employees. The publication cited instances where residents were sent to hospitals for psych evaluations over minor infractions, such as throwing bingo chips, and then were barred from returning to the home.  

Some nursing home employees told the NYT that they have faced more pressure from employers to get rid of the least lucrative patients amid the pandemic. 

“Even before the pandemic, there was tremendous pressure to get rid of Medicaid patients, especially those that need high levels of staffing,” said Mike Wasserman, a former chief executive of Los Angeles-based Rockport Healthcare Services. “The pandemic has basically supercharged that.” 

Ombudsmen in 16 states told the NYT that nursing homes were dropping patients off at hospitals during the pandemic, a practice that can violate federal laws if the residents aren’t allowed back.  

“We have been seeing these kinds of illegal discharges all the time, because nursing homes seem to have figured out that they will rarely, if ever, be penalized,” said Alison Hirschel, senior legal counsel to the Michigan ombudsman program. She said Medicaid patients requiring lots of staff attention “have a target on their back.”

After a June discharge by Life Care Center of Plainwell (Mich.) was determined illegal, Life Care spokesperson Davis Lundy said privacy rules prohibited him from discussing the case, but that patients are never discharged based on payer source.  

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Eliminating staff links between nursing homes could reduce COVID-19 cases in the facilities by 44%, report finds

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