Articles

CNN investigation exposes inappropriate use of drug in nursing homes

The maker of a little red pill intended to treat a rare condition is raking in hundreds of millions of dollars a year as it aggressively targets frail and elderly nursing home residents for whom the drug may be unnecessary or even unsafe, a CNN investigation has found. And much of the money is coming straight from the federal government.

GovTech: Seattle Looks to Tech to Make Life Better for Aging Citizens

To make life easier for citizens who face challenges connected to aging and accessibility, Seattle is turning to civic tech. The city will host a hackathon dubbed A City for All, which begins Sept. 22 and spans three days. The event will include technologists, of course, as well as input from national accessibility experts and the release of new data sets that provide insights into how Seattle supports residents as they age.

Democracy Now: Deregulated & Unaccountable: For-Profit Nursing Homes in Florida Face Scrutiny After Irma Deaths

Authorities in Florida have obtained a search warrant to investigate the deaths of eight elderly residents at a nursing home in Hollywood in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The victims ranged in age from 71 to 99 years old. They died in the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills after a transformer was knocked out following the hurricane, causing the nursing home’s air conditioning unit to shut down. Authorities say that the administrators of the nursing home were aware that the air conditioning unit had failed, and that they installed fans and portable air coolers inside the facility. But the remedies did little to protect the residents from the sweltering heat. At 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning, one nursing home resident was rushed to the emergency room of Memorial Regional Hospital, a Level I trauma center just down the street. By 5 a.m., when the hospital received a third rescue call, some hospital workers went down the street to check on the nursing home. They found a situation so critical, the hospital sent in more than 50 medical workers under a mass casualty protocol. At least 150 people were evacuated, many with severe dehydration and other heat-related symptoms. We speak with Dale Ewart, vice president of 1199SEIU, the United Healthcare Workers East union. We also speak with Stephen Hobbs, a reporter for the Sun Sentinel who has been covering the eight deaths.

ABC: Abuse in nursing homes unreported despite law

More than 1 in 4 cases of possible sexual and physical abuse against nursing home patients apparently went unreported to police, says a government audit that faults Medicare for failing to enforce a federal law requiring immediate notification. The Health and Human Services inspector general's office was issuing an "early alert" Monday on its findings from a large sampling of cases in 33 states. Investigators say Medicare needs to take corrective action right away. "We hope that we can stop this from happening to anybody else," said Curtis Roy, an audit manager with the inspector general's office, which investigates fraud, waste and abuse in the health care system. The audit is part of a larger ongoing probe, and additional findings are expected, he said.

NPR: Under Trump Rule, Nursing Home Residents May Not Be Able To Sue After Abuse

Another Obama-era regulation is on the Trump administration's chopping block — this one about nursing homes. The Obama administration's rule would've made it easier for nursing home residents to sue for negligence or abuse. But the Trump administration is proposing to replace that rule. And the new one could make it almost impossible for nursing home residents to get their day in court.

The Hill: Fight Over Right to Sue Nursing Homes Heats up

Consumer groups are making a last ditch effort to stop the Trump administration from stripping nursing home residents and their families of the right to take facilities to court over alleged abuse, neglect or sexual assault. The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) announced plans in June to do away with an Obama-era rule that prohibited nursing homes that accept Medicare or Medicaid funds from including language in their resident contracts requiring that disputes be settled by a third party rather than a court.

The Telegraph: Can life in a nursing home be made uplifting and purposeful?

One young doctor in upstate New York thought so and he came up with a highly eccentric way of demonstrating it. In this extract from his book Being Mortal, Atul Gawande tells the story of Bill Thomas and his miraculous menagerie.

Reply All Podcast with PJ Vogt: A man takes on an impossible job - fixing the place you go before you die.

This is a great podcast episode about nursing homes and aging. It has a good interview with Dr. Bill Thomas.

New York Times: The Ethics of Adjusting Your Assets to Qualify for Medicaid

At any given moment, there is a large group of citizens who want nothing more than to make absolutely certain that they are impoverished enough to qualify for Medicaid sooner rather than later. Someday, you might be one of them. Welcome to the (perfectly legal) world of Medicaid planning, the plain-vanilla term for the mini-industry of lawyers and others who help people arrange their financial lives so they don’t spend every last dime on a nursing home. Once properly impoverished under the law, then Medicaid, which gets funding both from your state and the federal government, picks up the tab.

Illinois Department of Public Health: Nursing Home Violations for 2017 Second Quarter

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced the following type “AA” and “A” violations of the Nursing Home Care Act processed during the first quarter of 2017. An “AA” violation is cited when there is a condition or occurrence at the facility that proximately caused a resident’s death. An “A” violation pertains to a condition in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result, or has resulted. The Quarterly Report of Nursing Home Violators can be found on IDPH’s website and contains additional information about the violations.

CNN: Even the middle class would feel GOP squeeze on nursing home care

Alice Jacobs, 90, once owned a factory and horses. She raised four children and buried two husbands. But years in an assisted living facility drained her savings, and now she relies on Medicaid to pay for her care at Dogwood Village, a nonprofit, county-owned nursing home here. "You think you've got enough money to last all your life, and here I am," Jacobs said. Medicaid pays for about two-thirds of the 1.4 million elderly people in nursing homes, like Jacobs. It covers 20% of all Americans and 40 percent of poor adults.

New York Times: How Medicaid Works and Who It Covers

One of the biggest flash points in the debate over Republican legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is the future of Medicaid. Here are some basic facts about the 52-year-old program. What is Medicaid? It’s a public health insurance program largely for low-income people, though some middle-class disabled and elderly people also qualify. States and the federal government share the cost. Whom does Medicaid cover? Nearly one in five Americans, 74 million people, are on Medicaid. Federal law guarantees Medicaid coverage to pregnant women, children, elderly and disabled people under certain income levels. It covers more than a third of the nation’s children and pays for half of all births. It also covers almost two-thirds of nursing home residents, including many who are middle class and spent of all their savings on care before becoming eligible.

Tribune: Why aging baby boomers will find few moderately priced senior housing options

Chicago's population is gradually getting older. In 2014, people over 65 made up 24 percent of the population in the Chicago region, up from just 18 percent in 1970, according to a report by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Although most seniors surveyed by AARP say they'd like to remain in their homes, the reality is that age-related physical limitations — difficulty climbing stairs and shoveling driveways — will make staying put difficult for many. All of this signals huge demand for senior housing in the years to come, and developers have been rushing to build or refurbish both rental and for-sale housing for the nation's 75 million baby boomers. Yet housing experts point to a mismatch between what's being built and what will be needed. Most construction has been aimed at the affluent luxury market, as developers have tried to lure active young seniors by emphasizing spalike amenities ranging from swimming pools to movie theaters. Not enough senior housing is being developed for middle-income retirees.

Boing Boing: Trump administration allows nursing homes to force abused seniors into binding arbitration

In 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services barred nursing homes from forcing their residents into accepting binding arbitration agreements that would move all legal claims into business-friendly fake courts where the proceedings are often secret, and where the presiding fake judges draw their pay from the companies that are accused of malfeasance. Naturally, the nursing home lobby sued to prevent this rule, and now, the Trump administration has announced that it won't fight the suit, and so the nursing home industry will be allowed to take away the foundational right of elderly people who've experienced harm at the hands of corporate care facilities to sue for redress of those harms.

Suntimes: Opponents stand firm against Rauner’s ‘flexible’ options for elderly

Despite objections from senior advocates, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration is forging ahead with a cost-cutting plan to dramatically alter how older adults receive services intended to keep them from needing to go into nursing homes. Rauner’s team is projecting it can save $120 million a year by reducing the number of hours state-paid home care workers are needed in the homes of elderly individuals by substituting “flexible” alternatives. Opponents, including AARP, say the plan in reality is a reckless reduction of services that will result in higher costs to the state by forcing more Illinois residents into expensive nursing home care.

The Intercept: House GOP Just Voted to Slash Medicaid, Which Pays for 60% of People in Nursing Homes

THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT, which squeaked through the House of Representatives on Thursday, is terrible for many Americans in many ways. But what’s gotten almost no attention is the horrendous effect it could have on Americans in nursing homes. Daniel Webster, a Republican representative from the 11th Congressional District in central Florida, acknowledged this when he announced he would vote for the AHCA. “I have been very concerned about Florida’s Medicaid-funded nursing home beds,” Webster said. “These are critical to the access some of our senior population has to our nursing homes.”

The Daily Line: ACA Repeal: A $13 Billion Impact On Illinois, Cook County And Chicago’s Already Tight Budgets

The potential repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is as much about municipal budgets and economics as it is about the individuals who rely on it for coverage. Federal Medicaid reimbursements, newly created preventive care grants, and financial incentives for neighborhood clinics have been a boon for Illinois hospitals and health centers. In a special 36 minute episode of The Aldercast, we take a deeper dive into this topic to explain what the healthcare landscape was like in Illinois before the ACA, how it changed, and what taxpayers, governments, and providers stand to lose from a potential repeal.

CNN: Sick, Dying and Raped in America's Nursing Homes

Some of the victims can't speak. They rely on walkers and wheelchairs to leave their beds. They have been robbed of their memories. They come to nursing homes to be cared for. Instead, they are sexually assaulted. The unthinkable is happening at facilities throughout the country: Vulnerable seniors are being raped and sexually abused by the very people paid to care for them.[Article mentions Illinois further down]

Kaiser Health News: New Federal Rules Will Require Home Health Agencies To Do Much More For Patients

Home health agencies will be required to become more responsive to patients and their caregivers under the first major overhaul of rules governing these organizations in almost 30 years. The federal regulations, published last month, specify the conditions under which 12,600 home health agencies can participate in Medicare and Medicaid, serving more than 5 million seniors and younger adults with disabilities through these government programs.

New York Times: Nursing Home Residents Gain New Protections

...Will the new requirements help improve care for the country’s 1.4 million nursing home residents — perhaps raise the report card grade to a solid B? “From our perspective, it’s a mixed bag,” Ms. Grant said. Residents and families will most likely appreciate some of these changes once they are in place. But the regulations disappointed nursing associations and many advocates by declining to set minimum staffing standards. And one key provision has already been stopped in its tracks by a lawsuit. A look at some particulars...

ChicagoInno: Chicago Startup Wants to Personalize Dementia Care

Dr. Anitha Rao has seen this problem firsthand: She's just one of 1,000 physicians in the world with specialized training in dementia and geriatric neurology. Rao is now launching a startup in hopes of improving dementia care through technology. Rao is the cofounder of Neurocern, a platform that uses proprietary algorithms to analyze symptoms in order to provide diagnostic guidance for doctors and a personalized care plan for patients. Rao hopes this solution will be particularly helpful to families without access to specialists and caregiving advice.

Cook County Record: Appeals court: IL didn't overstep in cutting nursing homes' Medicaid pay; homes can't sue in Cook courts

A Chicago appellate panel has affirmed a lower court finding that a suit lodged by scores of nursing homes, alleging Illinois state government excessively cut its Medicaid reimbursements to the nursing facilities, should be pursued in the Illinois Court of Claims rather than Cook County Circuit Court, because the state did not overstep its authority as to how it calculated the reductions.

Trib: Why hospital patients go to nursing homes with poor ratings

At age 88, Elizabeth Fee looked pregnant, her belly swollen after days of intestinal ailments and nausea. A nurse heard a scream from Fee's room in a nursing home and found her retching "like a faucet" before she passed out. The facility where she died in 2012 was affiliated with a respected San Francisco hospital [...] Fee had just undergone hip surgery at the hospital, and her family, pleased with her care, said they chose the nursing home with the hospital's encouragement. Laura Rees, Fee's elder daughter, said she was never told that the nursing home had received Medicare's worst rating for quality - one star. Nor, she said, was she told that state inspectors had repeatedly cited the facility for substandard care, including delayed responses to calls for aid, disrespectful behavior toward patients and displaying insufficient interest in patients' pain.

Beverly Patch: Morgan Park Nursing Home Failed to Disclose Staff Member Choking Patient: Report

Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) is advising anyone with relatives or friends staying at a Morgan Park nursing home to check up on them after the staff there failed to report a resident’s allegations of abuse, according to an Illinois Department of Public Health report.

Sun-Times: claims woman, 63, was raped at Richton Park nursing home

The son of a 63-year-old woman who died last year at a south suburban nursing home claims she was sexually assaulted at some point during her seven-week stay at the facility. The woman, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was admitted Dec. 7, 2014, to GlenShire Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre [...] The suit claims the woman “developed a sexually transmitted disease as a result of being raped” while admitted, but does not specify when the alleged attack happened or who carried it out.

The News-Gazette: Nursing home issues on board's plate

Newly elected Champaign County Board Chair C. Pius Weibel said last week that he wanted to review the numbers from the Nov. 8 vote on the quarter-cent increase in the county sales tax for facilities in advance of Tuesday's special board study session on the county nursing home. It shouldn't take long. Not only did the proposal lose countywide, 70 percent to 30 percent, but it lost in every part of the county — Champaign, Urbana, suburban areas, rural areas — and it lost in every precinct.

NPR: Rule Change Could Push Hospitals To Tell Patients About Nursing Home Quality

Hospitals have long been reluctant to share with patients their assessments of which nursing homes are best because of a Medicare requirement that patients' choices can't be restricted. [...] But hospitals' tight-lipped approach to sharing quality information may soon be changed. The Obama administration is rewriting those rules, not just for patients going to nursing homes but also those headed home or to another type of health facility.

Tribune: Chicago Nursing Home Fined After Residents Overdose on Heroin

State and federal health officials are seeking penalties totaling more than $100,000 from a North Side nursing home after five residents overdosed on heroin inside the facility in February, the Tribune has learned. The residents of Continental Nursing & Rehabilitation Center were hospitalized and recovered, but at least two used heroin again hours after they were returned to the facility, even though they were supposed to be on close watch, Illinois public health department inspectors allege. One of the two overdosed again.

Tribune: Short History of Allegations Against Philip Esformes and His Father

For years, wealth and controversy have followed Chicago-based nursing home operators Morris Esformes and his son Philip Esformes, who was arrested in July in what prosecutors have called one of the largest health care bribery and kickback schemes in U.S. history. Their dozens of Illinois, Florida and Missouri nursing facilities have earned millions of Medicaid and Medicare dollars annually despite repeated federal law enforcement probes and Chicago Tribune investigations alleging substandard care and incidents when disabled patients were assaulted by fellow residents.

NPR: Court Blocks New Nursing Home Rule From Taking Effect

A federal district court in Mississippi has issued an injunction blocking a new rule that would preserve the right of patients and their families to sue nursing homes over quality-of-care disputes. The rule, announced in September by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, would ban so-called pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts, which require patients and families to settle any dispute over care through arbitration, rather than the court system.

WAND-TV: Group Offers Guidance Videos for Choosing Nursing Homes

An organization that advocates for better nursing homes has developed a series of online videos to help families choose nursing homes for loved ones. The organization, known as the Illinois Pioneer Coalition, advocates for “culture change” in nursing homes, including allowing residents to make more decisions about their day-to-day lives. The videos are available on YouTube.

Illinois Awarded $1 Million Grant to Pilot Person-centered Supportive Services Program

Springfield – The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) today announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Administration for Community Living, has awarded the State of Illinois a $1 million grant. Through the grant, the Department will develop and pilot test person-centered supportive services that meet the needs of persons living with or those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia, and their caregivers.

ENEWSPF: $28 Million Settlement Reached with Drug Maker Promoting Unnecessary Antipsychotic Meds to Nursing Home Residents

Attorney General Lisa Madigan yesterday joined with 44 other states, Washington, D.C. and the federal government to announce a $28 million settlement with Omnicare Inc. over allegations the company solicited and received kickbacks from Abbott Laboratories in exchange for recommending and purchasing the drug Depakote for the off-label use of controlling behavior disturbances in nursing home patients with dementia.

Forbes: The End Of Secrecy In Nursing Home Wrongdoing

For the first time in 25 years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued revised rules to improve resident safety. An important one of them is that nursing homes can no longer force residents or their families to sign arbitration agreements in their contracts. This then allows a resident who suffers from serious harm in a nursing home to have their day in court, rather than try to get justice in a secret non-public arbitration.

Tribune: Elderly with no nearby family to help them need safety net

Sometimes called elder orphans, seniors with no relatives available to help them manage aging and illness are a large and likely growing group, according to Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, chief of geriatrics and palliative medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y. Roughly 22 percent of adults over the age of 65 are elder orphans or are at risk of becoming elder orphans because they don't have spouses, children, or siblings who live nearby, according to an analysis by Carney and three co-authors that was presented at the American Geriatrics Society's 2015 annual meeting.

Bloomberg: New CMS Nursing Home Ratings Don't Solve Accuracy Issues: Senator

New nursing home ratings published on a Medicare-run consumer website don't answer questions about the system's accuracy, a Democratic senator told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 10. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services changed the overall five-star quality ratings on its Nursing Home Compare website by including data from another five quality measures, an Aug. 10 fact sheet said.

Tribune: Chicago priest accused of taking $500,000 from parishioner with dementia

Standing before the religious icons that line his Ukrainian Orthodox church in Humboldt Park, the Rev. Nicholas Chervyatiuk has ministered to followers who arrived in Chicago as refugees after surviving Nazi Germany's prison camps. Now the Cook County public guardian is accusing the priest of improperly taking more than $500,000 from the savings of one of those displaced persons, a 93-year-old former church secretary diagnosed with dementia.

Tribune: Doctor sentenced to 2 years in nursing home bribery scheme

In the years before Sacred Heart Hospital abruptly closed, a series of elderly nursing home patients were taken to the struggling West Side medical facility, where they were whisked directly into a room to be examined and tested. The reasons for admission were murky. The trips to Sacred Heart, situated in the Garfield Park area, often made little geographic sense. Many of the patients were mentally disabled and poor.

Tribune: Nursing homes file suit to stop rival's expansion

Three nursing homes have gone to court to stop two projects that would bring new competition to the western suburbs. Community Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Naperville, The Springs at Monarch Landing in Naperville and Bria Health Services in Westmont filed two lawsuits last week challenging recent state approvals of proposals by a new rival, Transitional Care Management, to open facilities in Lisle and Aurora. The projects have been controversial in the nursing home industry because Transitional Care only wants to treat patients who were hospitalized but need short-term rehabilitative therapy before they go home.

Next Avenue: The Older Americans Act Finally Clears Congress

In essence, the bill allows older adults to remain at home and in the community by providing them with necessary services to maintain their independence. The Older Americans Act also saves Medicaid and Medicare untold millions each year.

Sun-Times: Senior Cams in Nursing Homes

A "senior" version of "nanny cams" is about to hit Illinois nursing homes. As of Jan. 1 [2016], a new state law, the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act allows video or audio recording devices to be placed in Illinois nursing home rooms to monitor treatment.

Government Accountability Office Releases Nursing Home Quality Report

The Government Accountability Office Nursing Home Quality Report found that the average number of consumer complaints reported per home increased by 21% from 2005-2014 [...] Conversely, the number of serious deficiencies identified per home with an on-site survey [...] decreased by 41% over the same period.

Tribune (2010): Bill Aims to Overhaul Nursing Home Rules

After years of frustration, authorities and advocates believed this spring represented their last and best opportunity to reform Illinois's troubled nursing homes. Still, it took tense negotiations and an eleventh-hour deal to strike a historic bill that aims to undo a half-century of failed policies and end a legacy of violence in which nursing home residents were raped, assaulted and murdered.