Nursing Homes Hide Behind Confusing Ownership

Our Atlanta based attorneys frequently pursue cases against nursing homes involving horrible neglect and abuse of elderly and disabled persons.
In most of these cases our attorneys must sort through a maze of companies and entities designed to hide the true ownership of these offending entities and thereby avoid responsibility.
It is encouraging to see that several national lawmakers in the health policy world now want want nursing homes to be more open about who’s running them.
Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) recently issued a joint statement saying that tangled layers of ownership information, complicated by buy-ups from private investment firms, make it almost impossible for consumers or government regulators to determine who’s operating many facilities and who should be responsible if problems arise.
“Nursing home residents and their families deserve to know the full story about who is ultimately responsible for their care,” Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a statement. “Federal health care officials need full and detailed information so they can properly oversee these nursing homes and hold the correct parties accountable for keeping patients safe and well-cared for.”
The concerns are in response to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that private investment firms have snatched up more than 1,800 nursing homes since 1998, but current reporting requirements make it difficult to track those ownership changes. The GAO found that ten large firms accounted for 89 percent of the purchases.
Under current rules, nursing homes wishing to participate in Medicare and Medicaid must disclose ownership information to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The agency keeps a database that’s supposed to track that data. But the GAO found the database was deficient in clarifying the complex ownership structures and chain affiliations.
Senator Grassley said the findings provide “further evidence of what we already knew: That the federal government needs to do a better job giving nursing home residents — including Medicare beneficiaries — complete, accurate and timely information so they can make the right choices when choosing a nursing home.”
The new health reform law addresses the ownership issue head on, requiring skilled nursing facilities (under Medicare) and nursing facilities (under Medicaid) — at the request of state and federal regulators — to provide full and clear ownership information.

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