Nursing Home Rule Breakers Still Get Bonuses

The Des Moines Register reviewed 81 bonus payment programs in over 30 states and found that numerous nursing homes with a below-average care giving rating were receiving quality-of-care bonuses. The newspaper looked at eight federal bonus programs in states where regulatory violations by a nursing home do not automatically disqualify a nursing facility from receiving a bonus. The eight programs analyzed are costing taxpayers $313 million per year.

By way of example, the Grace Living Center in Oklahoma earned approximately $96,000 in bonuses during the last year despite federal records that show the home has been cite for more violations than the state or national averages. Toby Edelman of the nonprofit Center for Medicaid Advocacy called the bonuses “preposterous,” and pointed out the incongruity of the government taking money from bad facilities by issuing fines, then returning the money in the form of a bonus. “It just doesn’t make any sense,” Edelman said, “it’s totally confusing to consumers.”

Legislation approved earlier this year says the bonuses will continue at least through June 2009.