For Profit Care Destroys the Life of the Elderly too…

 

Residents at nursing homes are worse off, on average, than ever before according to an analysis by The New York Times of data collected by government agencies from 2000 to 2006. Data shows that nursing homes acquired by large private investors have cut expenses and staff, sometimes below minimum legal requirements, in the name of profit. Watchdog groups say residents at these homes have suffered at the hands of corporate greed and have fared more poorly than residents over the past twenty years, from issues like depression, loss of mobility and loss of ability to dress and bathe themselves, according to data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Typically nursing homes acquired by large private investment companies scored worse than national rates in 12 of 14 categories that regulators use to track ailments of long-term residents. Ailments such as bedsores and easily preventable infections, are all on the rise, which indicates lack of staffing and cost cutting operating procedures. Before they were acquired by private investors, many of those homes scored at or above national averages in similar measurements. Conclusion? Profit equals bad care. Don’t try to tell that to a conservative nursing home investor though.

Residents’ families often respond to such circumstances by suing large for-profit nursing home owners, and regulators have levied fines against nursing home chains where under-staffing led to lapses in care. But as you might imagine, private investment companies have made it very difficult for plaintiffs to succeed in court and for regulators to levy chain-wide fines by creating complex corporate structures that insulate offenders from such lawsuits, with the help of the Bush administration of course. By contrast, publicly owned nursing home chains are required to fully disclose who owns and manages their facilities in securities filings and other regulatory documents.

Privately owned homes also make it more difficult for regulators to know if one company is responsible for multiple centers, and corporate legal structures help managers bypass rules that require them to report when they pay themselves from programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Investors, as you might have guessed, defend these structures claiming they are common in other businesses and have helped them revive an industry that was on the brink of widespread bankruptcy – while they rake in millions in profit on the backs of the elderly. So according to them, the only way to fix things is to introduce profit – all other options like government subsidies, lowering unreasonable costs, overhauling medicaid and medicare, introducing a national healthcare plan that makes sense, partnering with regional not-for-profit agencies, etc., are not viable. Only profiteering can do the trick.

Families of residents say those for profit homes unjustly protect investors who profit while care declines. I agree.

When are people in this country going to accept the fact that high levels of patient care and high profit are not bed-mates? Time and again we are faced with situations across multiple health-care scenarios where corporate profiteers are willing to turn people away, charge exorbitant fees or deliver sub-par care in the name of the almighty dollar. We already know that the people who perpetuate such non-sense are morally bankrupt as they pursue their tunnel-visioned, financially secure existence, oblivious to a continually pressed middle class – but at some point don’t we need to put these people in check in the name of humanity? Can’t their be one area of the American economy that operates as not for profit? Just one? Or is our economy so fragile that marginalizing profit in the health-care industry would lead to financial chaos on a national level? Maybe it would. So this begs the question…instead of milking the elderly for all the gold they can give after a lifetime of giving into a hopeless for profit system, shouldn’t we be growing other sectors of the economy with the goal of supplementing our G.D.P., as we work to transform health-care into what it should be…a right for all, especially the elderly, not simply a privilege for the wealthy?

Vote Republican in 2008, and it will be more of the same.

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Posted on September 23, 2007, in George Bush, Health Care, Law, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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