Articles Posted in Nursing homes

caring-150x150A glaring gap in the U.S. health care system — the giving of care at home — is burgeoning into a costly chasm.  Pretty much everybody involved needs to pay close attention and finally act to deal with the nation’s failure to support home caregiving for the sick, injured, debilitated, and aged.

The consequences of inaction already are becoming clear, as the dearth of home care is smacking the recovering economy, “contributing to labor shortages around the country and playing a role in overall inflation,” the Washington Post reported, finding:

“At least 6.6 million people who weren’t working in early March said it was because they were caring for someone else, according to the most recent Household Pulse Survey from the Census Bureau. Whether — and when — they return to work will play a role in the continued recovery and could reshape the post-Covid labor force. For all the attention on parents — and mothers in particular — who stopped working to care for children during the pandemic, four times as many people are out of the work force, caring for spouses, siblings, aging parents, and grandchildren, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest Monetary Policy Report.

academies-300x90The nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are in dire need of drastic overhaul to dramatically improve the quality and safety of their treatment of the aged, sick, and disabled. They too often now get what one expert has described as “ineffective, inefficient, inequitable, fragmented, and unsustainable” care.

To repair the glaring, longstanding wrongs in these facilities — problems that critics say contributed to 150,000 resident deaths during the coronavirus pandemic — requires sweeping practical, regulatory, and financial changes in an industry focused on profits and resistant to change, according to newly published expert research report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The academies, with members who are leaders in their fields, are private, nonprofit institutions that work outside of government to provide objective advice on matters of science, technology, and health.

brooks-lasure-150x150The Biden Administration has put the owners and operators of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities on notice that they must make major, desperately needed changes in the way they operate and that they will face much more and tougher oversight by federal regulators.

These reforms — prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and the 200,000 estimated deaths in long-term care facilities of elderly, ailing, and disabled residents — will not occur overnight and already are getting big push back from the industry. Still, as Biden pledged in his State of the Union remarks:

“Tonight, I’m announcing a crackdown on … companies overcharging American businesses and consumers. And as Wall Street firms take over more nursing homes, quality in those homes has gone down and costs have gone up. That ends on my watch. Medicare is going to set higher standards for nursing homes and make sure your loved ones get the care they deserve and expect.”

cshot-150x150A proverbial tree fell in a forest — and did anyone hear it? The Biden Administration’s deadline came and went for health workers across the country to get vaccinated against the coronavirus or their employers might lose vital federal funding. And despite the political drama that engulfed that requirement, it apparently took force minus the dire consequences opponents predicted.

Due to legal challenges to the vaccination requirement — arguments that the U.S. Supreme Court eventually rejected — the rollout of the mandate was staggered and varied by state.

It will be up to individual institutions and those states to report the data on who complied, with potential loss of Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal funds for those who did not.

calmattersnhomestrandcover-300x256As experts drill down to discover why nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are not playing a vital role in the U.S. health system by admitting improving patients from costly care in overwhelmed hospitals, a disconcerting explanation is emerging on who is filling some of the invaluable institutional space.

They might be called system hostages of sorts, poorer residents of nursing homes and other facilities whose condition has gotten better but who are trapped in institutions for distinct reasons, including the grim reality that they owe money they cannot pay, according to Jesse Bedayn of the nonprofit news site CalMatters. As he reported of the situation in the Golden State and nationally:

“While elder care advocates sound the alarm about patient ‘dumping’ by some California nursing homes — kicking out their mentally ill or bereft patients who need stable housing and care — a parallel dilemma is also threatening vulnerable residents: how to get out of a nursing home. The vast majority of people admitted to California skilled nursing facilities stay for less than three months to rehabilitate a broken limb or recover from a stroke or other ailment, according to the California Association of Health Facilities, an industry trade group. After these short-term stays, residents typically return home. But for thousands of poor nursing home residents … a temporary stay can become indefinite. Saddled with hefty Medicare copayments that can reach $5,000 a month — and later stripped of Social Security income, diverted to pay ongoing nursing home costs — they are often unable to hang onto their former housing. They become effectively stranded, with Medi-Cal and Social Security paying for housing and daily living in the facility.”

gorsuch-150x150What is good for geese is not for ganders, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided.

The justices ruled 5-4 that the Biden Administration may force health employers to require their staff to get vaccinated or lose important federal funds, but in a 6-3 vote they rejected a vaccine-or-test mandate for companies with more than 100 employees for their workers in close contact with others.

The high court majority, assailed by dissenting justices, sided with conservative Republican state officials’ legal challenges and ripped away an important, proven way to quell the worst public health crisis in a century — a pandemic that is slamming the U.S. health system and is on its way to killing at least 850,000 Americans and infecting more than 65 million of us in recent months.

emergencysign-300x134Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are playing a sad, familiar, and disturbing role in the U.S. health system’s teetering on the verge of collapse in too many parts of the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The owners and operators of the care facilities for the aged, sick, and injured insist they have done as well as they could have under unusual, calamitous conditions. But after taking in billions of dollars of emergency taxpayer assistance, they apparently have not moved with the needed alacrity to deal with their previous problems or to assist in positive ways with the crisis now slamming the health care system.

Just a reminder that the U.S. health system has its own “supply chain” nightmare. Hospitals offer intensive care, and their beds and other treatment spaces are among the system’s most costly, and, in the pandemic, in the highest demand.

hospitalbedhospice-300x200Profit-raking private investors, aka hedge funders, have taken aim at operations intended to help the elderly, desperately ill, and grievously injured experience a dignified death. The rapacious takeover of the hospice industry nationwide ought to be setting off political and regulatory alarms in a rapidly graying nation.

As is typically the case when MBA-driven interests buy up different kinds of enterprises, they not only don’t exhibit much concern about the whys or wherefores of a business. They focus, instead, on how they can build volume, while cutting services, staff, and costs, the Huffington Post reported, describing what private equity firms have targeted for hospices. As the online news site found:

“Today, private equity firms are acquiring American hospices at an astonishing rate. From 2012 to 2019, the number of hospices owned by private equity companies tripled. The pace of acquisitions seems to have only gotten faster during the Covid-19 pandemic. Industry brokers who have never before put together a deal involving private equity say they now field calls from private equity buyers multiple times a week. Tempted by a wave of retiring baby boomers, the-sky’s-the-limit Medicare payments, the mom-and-pop nature of the industry and a lack of regulation that is pretty startling even by U.S. standards, private equity now accounts for three out of every five new hospice acquisitions.”

nhomehall-300x200The battle to safeguard the elderly, sick, and injured residents of the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities is far from over — and the fight may be even tougher than advocates for the vulnerable may have imagined.

That’s because the facilities employ aggressive tactics to contest safety and other violations found by state and federal regulators in a system that favors them and shuts out the aggrieved while also keeping crucial information hidden from the public, the New York Times reported.

The newspaper said it investigated what happens when inspectors write up homes, finding a little-known system that owners and operators play to the max to protect a financially lucrative aspect of their operations: the “stars” awarded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on its web site.

canursestaffingprotest-300x149The U.S. health care system and all who rely on it may be reaching painful reckonings on how the coronavirus pandemic keeps affecting caregiving personnel, whether with highly trained nurses who are forcing hospitals to pay them more or see them leave or with poorly paid and ill-trained aides who still aren’t getting Covid-19 shots to protect themselves and their vulnerable patients.

Great doctors, of course, may be vital to patients’ positive outcomes. But ask anyone knowledgeable how hospitals succeed — or don’t — and they will point to nurses. And that’s a professional treasure that has been battered by the pandemic,  Kaiser Health News service reported in partnership with NPR and WPLN radio in Nashville, Tenn.

Broadcast news reporter Blake Farmer found in Tennessee and nationally that hospitals are struggling to maintain their nursing ranks, particularly among their most seasoned and specially trained pros. They have spent grueling months giving patients the round-the-clock, intensive care demanded in serious cases, notably for coronavirus infections.

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