Nursing homes have proven to be some of the most vulnerable places for spreading the novel coronavirus, yet some states across the country are providing perverse incentives for bad nursing homes to take COVID-19 patients.
In California, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Mexico, nursing homes are given double funding for coronavirus-positive patients, Politico reported. The states are providing these incentives to help take the pressure off of hospitals.
“Some homes have been eager for the new revenue, creating coronavirus wings or even converting to all-coronavirus facilities. But the ones most desperate for the money are often among those with low ratings and a history of citations for poor cleanliness or neglecting patients,” Politico reported. “In Michigan, for example, eight of 20 nursing homes selected by the state government to build wings for coronavirus-positive patients are currently rated as ‘below average’ or ‘much below average,’ the two lowest designations, on the Health and Human Services department’s five-star nursing home rating scale. One was sued in 2017 by a state watchdog group after a man died in its care.”
The issue of nursing homes accepting coronavirus-positive patients first came to light in late March, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) administration issued a mandate banning nursing homes in the state from refusing such patients, so long as they were “medically stable.”
Nursing homes in New York said they were given little to no notice about the requirement, so they couldn’t adequately prepare. Even more disturbing, nursing homes began receiving shipments of five body bags per week after they received their first corona-positive patients, The Daily Wire reported.
“Cuomo has blood on his hands. He really does. There’s no way to sugarcoat this,” one nursing home executive told the New York Post. “Why in the world would you be sending coronavirus patients to a nursing home, where the most vulnerable population to this disease resides?”
As Politico reported, one of New Mexico’s first nursing homes that was dedicated just to coronavirus patients “was cited as having issues with infection control during regular inspections in both 2018 and last year, and was fined $13,605 by the federal government last year for a lack of proper procedures that led to a five-minute delay in performing CPR on a resident after he became unconscious.” Yet it will now receive $600 per bed for taking more coronavirus patients.
A nursing home in California will receive $850 per day for accepting coronavirus-positive patients even though it was “cited twice last year for infection control issues during inspections,” Politico reported.
“Separately, for small assisted living facilities, which have six residents or fewer, the state is offering $1,000 per day for any facility willing to convert into a Covid-positive home, or $30,000 month, according to a letter sent by the state to facilities earlier this spring,” the outlet continued. “Even with the additional medical costs, that’s a significant increase over the median $4,500 cost of assisted living in the state.”
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