Are Medicaid Nursing Home Residents Being Wrongfully Evicted During the Pandemic?
Nursing home residents, many of whom suffer from one or more underlying medical conditions, have been the population most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. More than 40 percent of deaths due to COVID-19 have been nursing home residents and the staff who care for them. Now, there appears to be yet another threat to those who entrust their care to a long-term care facility.
PKSD Law discusses recent news reports concerning the involuntary discharges of long-term care residents happening around the country. Many of these discharges appear to violate federal rules. Could your family member be at risk?
Our knowledgeable attorneys are deeply committed to protecting residents who rely on the care provided by nursing homes. Contact our firm for a free legal consultation if your family member received a discharge notice or was wrongfully evicted and suffered harm.
How Nursing Home Residents Are Being Wrongfully Evicted
Wrongful evictions are not a new occurrence, but nursing homes now appear to be taking advantage of certain changes brought about by the pandemic. The suspension of family visits and ombudsmen site inspections makes it hard to monitor activities, including involuntary discharges. The residents at greatest risk are poorer Medicaid patients, who require long-term care. Many nursing homes are edging them out to bring in more profitable patients, such as Medicare patients infected with COVID-19. These patients reportedly bring in as much as $600 more per day than what Medicaid pays.
A case-in-point is an 88-year-old male resident, who had been living at Lakeview Terrace. On April 6, 2020, this man was dropped off by Lakeview staff at an unregulated boarding house in Los Angeles without notifying his family. The man, who suffers from dementia, wandered out of the facility less than 24 hours later, unnoticed, until police found him in Koreatown, crumpled up on a sidewalk.
According to a New York Times report, three separate employees said that nursing home staff at Lakeview were being told to try to clear out poorer patients to make room for more profitable ones, such as those infected with COVID-19.
However, an official for Lakeview Terrace told the New York Times that their evictions have been appropriate and not an opportunity to take advantage of the profit-potential of taking in certain COVID-19 patients. That said, Lakeview has a known history of regulatory problems, and these evictions are also occurring in multiple nursing homes around the country.
Legal Reasons for Evicting Nursing Home Residents
While it is important to protect the welfare and safety of our elderly population, there are valid reasons a nursing home resident may legally be discharged, such as:
- The resident has sufficiently recovered to be transferred to another facility
- Keeping the resident would endanger the health of other residents
- The safety of other residents is at-risk if the patient stays on at the facility
- The resident has not paid and/or, after reasonable notice, has not applied to Medicare or Medicaid for coverage to help with the costs
- The facility is unable to provide the appropriate level of care to meet the patient’s current needs
- The facility shuts down and ceases to operate
- Medical emergencies or disasters
Is There an Appropriate Discharge Planning Process?
Even in situations where discharge may be necessary or appropriate, there is a planning protocol that facilities are required to follow to ensure the safety of the resident. According to Aging Care, discharge planning requires the facility to:
- Prepare a summary of the resident’s current mental and physical condition
- Provide and discuss discharge instructions to help the resident understand his or her alternatives for ongoing care and housing
- Issue a written notification of the pending discharge, both to the resident and his or her family, at least 30 days prior to the planned discharge date
This protocol not only protects residents and makes sure family members are involved, but it also helps to ensure that certain patient rights are not violated, such as the right to appeal the facility’s decision.
How Can I Protect My Loved One From Being Involuntarily Discharged?
In many states, there are no legal mandates that prevent nursing homes from involuntarily discharging nursing home residents. However, Wisconsin does have a state law for nursing homes that includes requirements for resident admissions and discharges. Unfortunately, this law includes a medical emergency condition that may enable a facility to discharge patients, without his or her permission, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is important to remember that your family member has patient rights that must be followed. If your he or she receives a notice of discharge or eviction, here are some steps you can take to help ensure they are safely relocated:
- Compare nursing homes and check their quality ratings on the Medicare Nursing Home Compare website
- Check to see if your facilities of choice are on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) special focus list (SFF), including nursing homes in Wisconsin. These are facilities that you may want to avoid as they have a history of serious violations and citations
- Speak with your local ombudsmen to learn more about resident rights your loved one has regarding any plans for relocation
- Contact an attorney for legal help
Having this knowledge ahead of time will help you to be more prepared if your family member is suddenly evicted for any reason.
Do You Need Legal Help? Call Our Firm Today
If you have reason to believe your love one is receiving substandard care at his or her nursing home or has been issued an involuntary discharge or eviction notice, we are prepared to help. It is urgent that you do not delay if you are considering legal action.
Contact our firm, 24/7, to arrange for a completely free consultation with one of our Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers to discuss your situation. We welcome the opportunity to determine how we may be able to help and discuss your potential legal options.
If we represent you, there is nothing for you to pay up front. We do not collect our fees until the end of a case, once you have received compensation due to a settlement or verdict
Call PKSD Law today at 877-877-2228 to learn more.