Coronavirus patients could be cash cows for nursing homes
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Los Angeles Times
Posted: February 8th, 2021
The nursing home industry has been devastated by the coronavirus, with outbreaks killing thousands of elderly residents. But the health crisis presents operators with a potential financial upside. Patients with COVID-19 could be worth more than four times what homes are able to charge for long-term residents with relatively mild health issues. Some patient advocates and industry experts fear the premium pay available for coronavirus patients — and a simultaneous easing of regulations around transfers — could tempt some home operators to move out low-paying residents to bring in more lucrative COVID-19 patients, despite the obvious health risks to residents and staff. “There are probably some unscrupulous operators who would jump at this,” said David Grabowski, a professor of healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School. A new Medicare reimbursement system that went into effect last fall pays nursing homes substantially more for new patients — including those released from a hospital — particularly for the first few weeks. Under those guidelines, COVID-19 patients can bring in upward of $800 per day. By contrast, facilities collect as little as $200 per day for long-term patients with dementia. Nursing homes have always had a financial incentive to attract the short-term patients ... Grabowski said. But the health risks for existing residents and staff are so high with COVID-19, Grabowski said, “I’d be a little suspicious of a low-quality nursing home that’s jumping to the head of the line for this.”
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