There are perfectly valid reasons to evict, discharge, or transfer someone from a nursing home: A resident has recovered and no longer needs specialized care, a resident has become a threat to staff or other residents, or if at a private facility, they are unable to pay for the services provided. But what about residents who are evicted without any reason? The practice, referred to as involuntary discharge, is on the rise and nursing homes in Illinois are guilty of it. In fact, the number of involuntary discharges from Illinois nursing homes has more than doubled in the past 5 years.
In a May 26th article on NPR.org, Illinois and Maryland were both called out for their high eviction rates. Maryland’s attorney general, Brian Frosh, has filed a Medicaid fraud lawsuit on behalf of the state against one particular chain of nursing homes, Neiswanger Management Services, alleging that they are guilty of seeking reimbursement for discharge planning services that it never provided. Discharge planning requires nursing homes to discuss plans of an eviction with a resident and their loved ones, as well as preparing detailed records for the resident to give to their next facility or care provider. According to the attorney general, the particular chain that has been named in the lawsuit has eviction rates that are 100x higher than any other nursing home in the state of Maryland. Why are the eviction rates so much higher at a Neiswanger-owned facility than at others in Maryland? The state believes it’s due to the reimbursement rules for Medicaid vs. Medicare. Medicare reimbursement is only good for the first 100 days of long term care treatment. Once residents transition to Medicaid, they’re less attractive to the facility because reimbursements under Medicaid are also lower. Frosh noticed that many of the evicted residents had been evicted right as their 100 day Medicare reimbursement period was ending, proving that Neiswanger wanted to empty beds to take in more Medicare residents.
Not only were residents wrongfully evicted, but many, including those suffering from dementia, were left on family members’ doorsteps, at homeless shelters, and in hospital waiting rooms.
Candidate for Governor Drafting Legislation Against Involuntary Discharge
In Illinois, gubernatorial-candidate and state senator Daniel Biss is pushing for legislation that will prevent nursing homes from involuntarily discharging residents and refusing to take them back. To Biss, it was evident that many nursing homes have a clear preference for the type of resident they wish to attract and retain. At these facilities, residents who pose little challenge to the staff are clearly preferred and if a resident becomes difficult in any way, they are able to easily evict the resident and wash their hands of the situation. In our state, even if a resident is wrongfully evicted, the nursing home can refuse their readmission.
The NPR article highlights the story of Vincent Galvan, an Illinois nursing home resident who was supposed to be receiving physical therapy after having his leg amputated and receiving a prosthesis. When he complained to staff that he needed physical therapy and more attention, he was ignored. So he called the company that owned the nursing home. Still no response. Ultimately he was driven to a hospital and accused of being schizophrenic and depressed. Despite the hospital’s assessment that he suffered from neither of those conditions, the nursing home refused to take Mr. Galvan back. He believes complaining made him too big of a burden for his nursing home.
Rules Exist but Many Don’t Follow
Late last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated their nursing home regulations for discharging a resident. Although the rules exist, many residents and their loved ones are unaware of their rights and despite knowing that the practice feels unfair, aren’t sure where to turn. As a reminder, here are the new guidelines on valid conditions for involuntary resident discharge:
- The facility cannot meet the resident’s needs
- The resident no longer needs nursing facility services
- The resident’s presence endangers the safety of others in the facility
- The resident’s presence endangers the health of others in the facility
- The resident has failed to pay
- The facility is closing
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury or death as a result of an improperly handled involuntary discharge, please let the Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin and Perconti review the facts of your situation and advise you of any legal remedies you may have. As we now know from the rising number of involuntary discharges, Illinois nursing homes are getting away with evicting innocent and vulnerable residents and facing little, if any, consequences. Our consultations are always free, confidential, and handled by one of our skilled attorneys. Click here to fill out an online request form or call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872.