Follow The Money
The Trump Administration gave nursing homes billions from the CARES Act including $4.9 billion in May and $5 billion announced in July. HHS also released funds for providers based on Medicare and Medicaid revenues. The funds were intended to buy personal protective equipment, increase staffing to safe numbers, and testing. Nursing homes are still scrambling to get rapid-response Covid-19 antigen testing supplies. Trump only gave two companies emergency approval to produce them. But cases and deaths continue to rise. Nursing homes need rapid-response antigen tests because they offer faster results. Molecular tests are sent to labs for processing. Nursing homes need these tests.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, said during an interview with CNN Newsroom. “When people are making a conscious decision to not wear a mask, they are making a decision that is killing old people in nursing homes. We need to take responsibility and change that,” Parkinson said. “We just made some major policy mistakes that we need to make sure never happen again,” he said.
Now the media is following the money. Molly Flynn wrote an article at Skilled Nursing News. The Intercept and IndyStar published investigations into the financing mechanisms used by nursing home companies.
Quid Pro Quo?
The Intercept investigation dealt directly with COVID-19 relief. The investigation discovered how nursing homes connected with a campaign donor to Trump’s re-election campaign. After giving Trump $1 million, the donor received more than $27 million since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. That money included Paycheck Protection Program loans to nursing homes affiliated with Eliezer Scheiner, his partner Teddy Lichtschein and Scheiner’s company, TL Management.
The IndyStar focused on how hospitals have made use of funds from Medicaid supplemental payment programs to bolster payments to nursing homes. In particular, the fraud case involving nursing home operator American Senior Communities. A lawsuit in 2017 filed against several former executives because their involvement in a fraud, kickback, and money laundering scheme.
IndyStar’s report was published on August 6. The Intercept’s was published on August 8 with support from NursingHomeCrisis.org, a project of Social Security Works and Latinos for a Secure Retirement. I hope we find out where the money went because it did not go to nursing homes caregivers.