Elder Law

Nursing homes increasingly eject residents; are they following the law?

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Nursing homes are increasingly ousting residents, often expelling patients who are considered undesirable because they require more care or because their families complain more often, according to elder advocates.

Federal law restricts the reasons that nursing homes can evict residents, but advocates say the nursing homes sometimes bend the rules, the Associated Press reports. Complaints about evictions were the top grievance reported to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in 2014, which found eviction and discharge complaints have increased about 57 percent since 2000.

Federal law allows residents to be transferred from nursing homes if the facility closes, the resident doesn’t pay, the resident poses a risk to others, the resident no longer needs nursing home services, or the nursing home can no longer meet the person’s needs. Federal law also requires nursing homes to hold beds for Medicaid patients who are hospitalized for a week or less.

Even when residents’ families appeal an ouster and win, nursing homes don’t always obey the rulings. A February 2016 story by National Public Radio highlights one such case. Bruce Anderson had been a resident at Norwood Pines Alzheimer’s Care Center in Sacramento, California, before his May 2015 hospitalization for pneumonia. When Anderson was ready to go back to the nursing home, it refused to admit him.

Anderson’s family appealed to the California Department of Health Care Services, which oversees Medicaid, and won. Yet the nursing home still refused to permit Anderson’s return. The decision has spurred a lawsuit filed on behalf of Anderson and two other nursing home residents that seeks a court decision requiring California to enforce its own rulings.

The nursing home says in court documents that it refused to readmit Anderson because he is a danger to staffers and residents. Anderson’s daughter, Sara Anderson, told AP she believes the nursing home refused because she had complained about its use of restraints on her father. Bruce Anderson remains in the hospital, which costs Medicaid about 2½ times more than the nursing home does.

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