Even though a nursing home that is liable for negligence may be fined by the government for these oversights, it may also receive government benefits in spite of them. Most notably, many nursing home facilities that received only one star from Medicare’s nursing home rating system (out of a possible five) are still receiving low-rate guaranteed mortgages from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Mortgages are even being guaranteed to nursing home facilities that have a history of residents being sexually abused or dying suspiciously.
These low-rate mortgages were originally supplied to nursing home facilities by the government as part of the National Housing Act of 1959. The original purpose of this part of the Act was to provide funding nursing homes that were having trouble otherwise finding funding. The mortgages are currently available to both for-profit and not-for-profit facilities. Even though nursing home facilities have greater profits and a more reliable source of income due to Medicaid, the Act has still remained in effect, and facilities still receive government aid.
Although HUD takes quality reports into account, a low rating does not appear to automatically disqualify an under-performing nursing facility from receiving government assistance, especially since more and more facilities that have a one-star rating have been getting guaranteed mortgages from HUD in recent years.
In a seemingly contradictory approach, even facilities that have been outright fined by the government in recent years for negligent behavior have still been approved to receive government benefits. For example, despite public outrage and extensive media coverage, the following two facilities have not only remained open, but they have also been approved for HUD-guaranteed, low-rate mortgages:
Angel of Death Case
A nurse at the Woodstock Residence Nursing Center has pled guilty to one count of criminal neglect for administering drugs to residents that resulted in their death. She admitted to deliberately administering doses that were too high with the excuse that she was eliminating the residents’ misery. The nurse, Marty Himebaugh, has come to be known as “the Angel of Death,” and the facility was hit with $360,000 worth of fines. Nevertheless, the infamous Angel of Death facility has still received government-approved money in recent years.
The Alden Debes facility in Rockford, IL (formerly Alden Alma Nelson Manor) has a one-star rating from the federal government and was recently fined $145,000 for three suspicious deaths of residents. The Alden Wentworth facility on the South Side of Chicago, which is owned by the same owner as the Alden Debes facility, Floyd Schlossberg, came under fire in 2009 after an 84-year-old resident died after falling four stories. Nevertheless, Schlossberg facilities continue to benefit from government-ensured mortgages.
Even if a nursing home is receiving government- or HUD-subsidized funding, this does not necessarily mean that the facility has a high government (or independent for that matter) quality rating. Even facilities that have been fined or been the location of major negligence scandals still seem to receive government-funding far too often.
If you or a loved one has suffered from the negligence of a nursing home facility, please feel free to reach out to an experienced attorney at Levin & Perconti today.
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