A recent feature on NBC News depicted a shocking scenario: Elderly and disabled people, booted out of their nursing homes, no place to go and no one to help them.
Alas, while these scenes are heartbreaking and troublesome to anyone with a heart, they aren’t uncommon. Nursing homes often convict residents whose Medicare coverage has run out.
Many of these people are eligible for appeals. They also could apply for Medicaid, or consult with a lawyer or advocate. But they and their families are unaware of these options, and so they get discharged against their will, sometimes directly onto the street, where no one can find or aid them.
The number of nursing home evictions is on the rise, according to NBC. It found long-term care ombudsmen received about 1,500 more complaints about discharges in 2017, the most recent numbers available, than the year before. In fact, transfers and discharges generate more complaints than any other issue, the federally mandated ombudsmen report.
And the AARP Foundation, which advocates for at-risk seniors, says that number is probably low. Many families don’t know they have the option to complain.
How can you protect yourself and your loved ones from an unexpected eviction from a nursing home at a time when you need care the most? Keep in mind these tips for dealing with billing and other issues that may be at the root of the problem.
1. Nursing Homes Cannot Discriminate Against Residents Based on Their Payment Situation
Some nursing home residents pay through long-term care insurance they set up before they needed assistance. Others rely on Medicare, which in most states covers only a predetermined number of days before residents need to contribute, or Medicaid, which offers a lower per-day premium.
But nursing homes cannot change their care based on the source of payment. In other words, someone paying their bill through their own bank account should not get preferential treatment over someone using government resources. That includes the nursing home handing out early eviction notices based on payment source.
2. Know Why You Can and Cannot Be Evicted
Nursing homes can discharge you if you meet certain criteria, such as your condition improving or if you have not applied for Medicare or Medicaid and can no longer pay. But facilities must give you at least a 30-day notice, and they must assist you in finding an alternative once you leave. The NBC News report suggests many facilities ignore these guidelines, leading people to end up on the streets.
3. Nursing Homes Must Readmit You If They Lose an Appeal
Court cases have mandated that nursing homes readmit residents who were improperly evicted. NBC News says some of these homes have refused to let the elderly and disabled people re-enter. If this happens, you have a legitimate complaint and can receive assistance from authorities.
4. A Federal Agency Can Help
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has initiated programs to help residents unfairly or illegally evicted from nursing homes, and they may be able to assist you with your case.
Don’t leave your later years to chance. Contact Jay today to learn more about life event planning to keep you safe in your retirement.