White House Fact Sheet:
All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and to have access to quality medical care. And in no case should a health care facility be causing a patient harm. The President believes we must improve the quality of our nursing homes so that seniors, people with disabilities, and others living in nursing homes get the reliable, high-quality care they deserve.
That’s why he is announcing a set of reforms—developed by and implemented through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—that will improve the safety and quality of nursing home care, hold nursing homes accountable for the care they provide, and make the quality of care and facility ownership more transparent so that potential residents and their loved ones can make informed decisions about care.
To do this, the reforms the President is announcing will ensure that:
- every nursing home provides a sufficient number of staff who are adequately trained to provide high-quality care;
- poorly performing nursing homes are held accountable for improper and unsafe care and immediately improve their services or are cut off from taxpayer dollars; and
- the public has better information about nursing home conditions so that they can find the best available options.
Despite the tens of billions of federal taxpayer dollars flowing to nursing homes each year, too many continue to provide poor, sub-standard care that leads to avoidable resident harm. In fact, failure to comply with Federal guidelines at nursing homes is widespread. The Government Accountability Office found that, from 2013 to 2017, 82% of all inspected nursing homes had an infection prevention and control deficiency, including a lack of regular handwashing, that was identified through Medicare and Medicaid surveys.
Without decisive action now, these unacceptable conditions may get worse. Private equity firms have been buying up struggling nursing homes, and research shows that private equity-owned nursing homes tend to have significantly worse outcomes for residents. Private equity firms’ investment in nursing homes has ballooned from $5 billion in 2000 to more than $100 billion in 2018, with about 5% of all nursing homes now owned by private equity firms. Too often, the private equity model has put profits before people—a particularly dangerous model when it comes to the health and safety of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities. Recent research has found that resident outcomes are significantly worse at private equity-owned nursing homes:
- A recent study found that residents in nursing homes acquired by private equity were 11.1% more likely to have a preventable emergency department visit and 8.7% more likely to experience a preventable hospitalization, when compared to residents of for-profit nursing homes not associated with private equity.
- One working paper examining 18,000 nursing home facilities over a seventeen-year period found that private equity ownership increased excess mortality for residents by 10%, increased prescription of antipsychotic drugs for residents by 50%, decreased hours of frontline nursing staffing by 3%, and increased taxpayer spending per resident by 11%. That suggests an additional 20,150 lives lost as a result of private equity ownership.
- Another study found that private equity-backed nursing homes’ COVID-19 infection rate and death rate were 30% and 40% above statewide averages, respectively.
Research also suggests that, despite depriving residents of quality care, private equity-owned nursing homes actually led to an uptick in Medicare costs, too.
To Be Continued…