Federal laws exist to prevent nursing homes from removing elderly residents into hospitals, yet the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) are alleging that the state of California is doing just that, according to a recent press release. The nonprofit advocacy group argues that “California nursing homes have been sending Medi-Cal residents to acute care hospitals and refusing to allow them to return to the nursing homes where they reside.”
CANHR has described the state’s actions as “patient dumping,” according to a report from Southern California Public Radio. And dumping patients is not just an issue for older adults or for those of us with elderly loved ones. If the allegations turn out to be true, they will have cost taxpayers in California more than $70 million over the last decade.
Federal Requirements and Readmission to Nursing Facilities
According to the press release, federal law requires California to “offer a readmission hearing that provides for the prompt readmission of residents.” The California Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is allegedly conducting these hearings. Yet the state of California is not upholding the decisions. When elderly Californians are denied readmission to a nursing home after spending time in the hospital, they are in effect left without a home. Given that these residents do not have anywhere to go, they end up staying in the hospital for much lengthier stays than necessary. Those hospital stays are what is costing taxpayers so much money.
Patricia McGinnis, the Executive Director of CANHR, emphasized the seriousness of the allegations against the state that have resulted in the recent lawsuit. As she explained, the practice of refusing readmission to nursing homes is not new to California, but rather “has become an epidemic” in our state. McGinnis argues that, “until and unless we make it more expensive for nursing homes to violate the law than to honor residents’ rights, nursing homes will continue this illegal and life-threatening behavior.”
What is the aim of the lawsuit brought by CANHR? At its core, the nonprofit advocacy groups hopes to “expose the problem” and to “push the State to enforce its laws and honor our commitment to vulnerable residents who need help.”
Individuals in California Impacted By State’s Actions
In developing its complaint against the state, CANHR considered the stories of many different elderly Californians and their families that have been negatively affected by nursing home readmission practices. For instance, three individual plaintiffs won their readmission hearings—allowing them to be readmitted to their nursing homes after hospital stays—but the nursing facilities where they had been living would not readmit them. One plaintiff has been forced to endure chemical restraints “even though he is able to walk.” Another plaintiff had been living in a nursing home in Sacramento near his family, but he was forced to move to Los Angeles after being denied readmission to his nursing home.
These allegations are serious, and they should remind San Diego residents that we need to pay particular attention when our loved ones receive care in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. If you have questions or concerns about nursing home abuse or neglect, you should speak with an experienced San Diego elder abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help.
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