Are Nursing Homes Misusing Hundreds of Millions of Funds Intended for Pandemic Relief?
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on August 6, 2020 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Multiple nursing homes around the country received more than $300 million in pandemic funds to spend as they like. While many long-term care facilities impacted by COVID-19 have a valid need for funding, these recipients are for-profit facilities with a history of serious violations.
PKSD Law helps to keep you informed with current news about U.S. nursing homes. Today’s blog discusses how some of these facilities may be using, or misusing, federal pandemic relief money.
Nursing homes provide a valuable service for the aging and their families, but there are many who also take advantage of their vulnerability. Our firm is dedicated to protecting the legal rights, as well as the health and safety of nursing home residents. We offer free consultations with one of our Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers when you need legal help.
Disturbing Pandemic Distributions
The federal government distributed hundreds of millions in relief funds to nursing home organizations struggling due to COVID-19-related issues. According to a Washington Post report, more than a dozen of the recipients have a recent history of serious violations that include Medicare fraud, substandard care and forged documents. These facilities had to repay more than $260 million to the government.
Many of these same recipients are in corporate integrity agreements (CIA) with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) – which is also the office that distributed the pandemic relief funds. The five-year CIAs are designed to help prevent new violations from occurring. The agreements are legally binding and include independent audits, ongoing training for employees, enhanced reporting requirements, and other accountability measures. However, even with a history of civil fraud violations, the money comes with little restrictions on how it may be spent.
Why Were No Spending Restrictions Imposed?
Independent experts and others believe the federal government should have spent more time scrutinizing the financial needs and other considerations of each recipient, including past spending history, the standard of care, and whether the facility had a history of civil fraud violations.
Additionally, many feel that the government should have imposed more restrictions on how the facilities could spend the money. In the end, the providers and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed that the federal funds would only be restricted from being used for:
- Gun-control lobbying
- The purchase of chimpanzees
However, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no requirement for these organizations to spend the money to invest in more personal protective equipment or providing hazard pay for the nurses or caregivers who provide care to residents infected with the virus.
Other COVID-19 Relief Aid Recipients Under Investigation
One of the pandemic aid recipients is still involved in a civil case with the federal government in Tennessee for alleged violations that include unnecessary physical therapy to elderly residents and purposely prolonging the release of Medicare patients. The facility, SavaSeniorCare, which has denied allegations of any wrongdoing, received more than $65 million in pandemic relief funds.
In all, more than $300 million in pandemic relief aid went to nursing home entities that have been recently sued for Medicare fraud.
Millions more in funding went out to other nursing homes with highly publicized violations. One facility, a Pennsylvania nursing home, administered the experimental anti-malarial drug touted by President Trump to over 200 of its residents. A New Jersey facility is currently under investigation by the state attorney general after the discovery of several lapses in its patient care and infection control amid the pandemic. When police investigated an anonymous tip about a storage shed being used as a make-shift morgue, they found the bodies of 17 residents.
Contact an Attorney from PKSD Law Group for Legal Help
At PKSD Law, we have a team of representatives and legal professionals to help you set up your free, no-obligation consultation. In this meeting, we discuss your potential case and answer your legal questions.
Our Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers have obtained millions in compensation for our clients. We are committed to protecting the elderly and prepared to help you fight for justice if your loved one suffered harm due to the negligence of a nursing home or caregiver.
PKSD Law Group offers FREE consultations. Call 877-877-2228 today.