For too long, the federal government has been subsidizing downright pathetic nursing homes. Facilities that provide horrible care and dangerous living conditions are still permitted to keep their doors open. As long as these facilities remain open, they will continue to provide a steady stream of income for their owners because of the government’s generosity.
Unfortunately, there’s a complete double standard when it comes to government supported nursing homes v. privately funded facillites that provide shoddy care. In a privately funded setting, these facilities would never exist as people would surely find alternative facilities that provide quality care.
Yet at many of the most troubled nursing homes, the main source of funding (over 99% at some facilities) is derived from governmental Medicare funding. Take away the funding and there’s little question that these facilities quickly close down.
Particularly, when many of these facilities care for the most vulnerable– and challenging to care for– patient, the argument can be made that if it weren’t for these facilities, these people would have no place to go.
The Chicago Tribune recently chronicled this dilemma when it chronicled the care provided at Wincrest Nursing Center in Chicago‘s north-side. For years, federal and state agencies have chronicled troubling conditions at the facility including:
- Drug abuse amongst patients
- Violence amongst patients
- Felons living freely at the facility
- Staff unfamiliar with facility policies and procedures
Now, after the ongoing troubles and significant fines ($400,000), CMS is moving to terminate Wincrest’s Medicare funding— essentially closing the facility.
While I certainly sympathize with the stress created by re-locating patients, I suggest that an enterprising nursing home operator would eventually recognize the void created by the shuttered facilities (and the steady stream of government funds) and open a decent facility. Until then, operators of troubled nursing homes really have nothing to fear as they will undoubtedly continue to receive regular payments for their continual lackluster care.