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abuse of covid-19 relief funds

Some U.S. Nursing Home Providers Will Misuse COVID Relief Funds

A revealing story published in the Washington Post shows that many for-profit nursing homes across the U.S., received hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID relief by The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The funds were intended to be shared to help health care workers and nursing home residents address pandemic-related shortcomings in care, but came with few spending restrictions. Unfortunately, some for-profit owners may take advantage of the support rather than spend the money on necessities such as personal protective equipment or hazard pay for nurses and aides caring for residents battling COVID-19.

According to Health and Human Services (HHS):

federal funding fraud nursing homes

Illinois Nursing Home Owner May Have Diverted Over $1 Million Intended For Nursing Homes

The Cahill Group of Chicago, an operating company working in the financial industry returned to the nursing home business in 2014 when owner and founder Mark Yampol acquired St. Louis-based Rosewood nursing homes and skilled-care centers for $250 million. Now operating as Cahill Rosewood, the group oversees 14 nursing homes in cities located throughout Illinois (and Missouri), including homes in Joliet, St. Charles, and Northbrook.

Rosewood facilities are repeatedly named on the state’s list of nursing home violators. In 2019, Rosewood homes called out for quality and care violations included:

meadowbrook nursing home covid-19 update

Meadowbrook Manor Reports Another COVID-19 Death, Highest Case Rate in Will County

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports another COVID-19 death at Meadowbrook Manor in Bolingbrook in Will County. The facility has been home to 41 deaths since the start of the pandemic, with the majority related to an outbreak in May. This is the first death noted since May 29th.

  • The facility has the highest number of deaths in Illinois among any other long-term care facility.

nursing homes not getting stimulus checks

Some Nursing Homes Are Taking Residents’ Stimulus Checks

The IRS began making stimulus payments on April 15, 2020. And for nursing home or assisted living facility residents on Medicaid, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has had to raise the alarm after several facilities have requested residents to sign checks over to keep their Medicaid benefits going. These facilities have no right to claim residents’ stimulus checks.

FTC’s Elder Justice Coordinator Lois Greisman says that facilities cannot request or take the funds, which are considered tax credits per the CARES Act. Those tax credits don’t count as “resources” for federal benefit programs like Medicaid, so the government cannot claim them, and neither can the nursing homes.

financial abuse of elderly in nursing homes

Finding Out If Someone Is Stealing Your Loved One’s Money

The Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans has reported nearly $1.7 billion worth of suspicious activities, including actual losses and attempts to steal older adults’ funds. Unfortunately, the elderly, especially nursing home residents, are easy victims of financial abuse. And officials say these occurrences likely only represent a small fraction of elder financial abuse incidences. Family members or someone the victim may know, such as a long-term care facility worker, are too often the guilty party in these cases.

Financial losses are almost always more significant when the older adult knows the suspect. In 2017, the average loss per person was about $50,000 when the older adult knew the suspect and $17,000 when the suspect was a stranger. This is because residents may be very trusting to their caregivers and family members. In addition, the National Council on Aging estimates that more than 20 percent of nursing home residents are victims of financial abuse, and residents who suffer from memory disorders such as dementia are taken advantage of more often. These patients have trusting behaviors and cognitive disabilities, making them highly susceptible to the exploitation or mismanagement of their personal funds.

manorcare for-profit facilities

Remember the Big Payout to Nursing Home Chain, HCR ManorCare?

The for-profit nursing home chain ManorCare went bankrupt with $7.1 billion in debt in 2018 over neglect and Medicare fraud allegations. The group operates about 15 facilities located throughout the Chicago area, primarily under the Heartland, ManorCare Health Services and Arden Courts brands. Prior to the bankruptcy, the chain was owned by the Carlyle Group, who bought the real estate in 2007 for $6.1 million. According to the Washington Post, the chain couldn’t make the $472 million a year rent payment, so instead, left its financial ruin to the takeover company, Quality Care Properties. Residents were found neglected, uncared for and living with painful bedsores and fall injuries, and without barely enough staff. An analysis of violation reports and records from the Illinois Department of Health shows:

  • Staff at a South Holland facility failed to prevent a woman from getting bedsores, and an infection led to her untimely death in 2010.

How to Prepare Your Nursing Home Complaint and Who to Contact

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulates and inspects Illinois nursing homes and long-term care facilities under the state’s licensing acts, regulations, and federal Medicare Conditions of Participation. The state’s 24-hour a day Nursing Home Hotline receives nearly 19,000 complaint calls each year.

finalcial abuse of elderly
Financial Abuse and Scamming Nursing Home Residents of Their Money

Several research studies, including an analysis by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimate that seniors in the U.S. are scammed out of anywhere from $3 billion to $37 billion a year. Those over age 70 lose an average of $10,000 to elder financial exploitation each year, and the losses are even higher when the scammer is a friend, trusted caregiver, or relative.

  • In 2018, the Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans received over 180,000 encounters of suspicious elder financial exploitation (EFE), involving a total of more than $6 billion since 2013.

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More Than 100 Illinois Nursing Homes Named in Final Violators Report of 2019

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has released its final and Fourth Quarter Report of Nursing Home Violators for 2019 highlighting nursing homes that failed to comply with mandatory state regulations. This report dates October 2019 through December 2019. It highlights 111 Illinois facilities, an increase from 71 in the third quarter. The facilities were cited for various violations of the Nursing Home Care Act, a statute that provides nursing home residents and their families with the assurance that proper and safe care will be received.

Illinois facilities with violations in quarter four of 2019 include:

Financial exploitation

Symphony Residences of Lincoln Park Stalls Courts, Exploited Resident Waits for Justice

Grace Watanabe is a 98-year-old Japanese American survivor of the World War II Japanese internment camps. Her time spent working for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services helped her save for her retirement. As she aged, Ms. Watanabe required much more care and moved to Symphony Residences of Lincoln Park. Without any family, she had to make the choice to become increasingly reliant on the Symphony facility and staff, paying them more than $3,600 a month for her care. Shockingly, she was taken for much more. This is the most recent update of an alarming example of a vulnerable nursing home resident being financially exploited by care staff.

  • During Watanabe’s time at Symphony, seven workers wrongfully received more than $700,000 from her.
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