Why is it that the fat cat is always the one crying the loudest at the food bowl? Just ask nursing home conglomerates in Kentucky. There have been repeated public statements that Kentucky laws and civil suits are driving nursing homes out of Kentucky. Before you shed a tear for these poor companies just trying to make a buck, consider their end of year balance sheet and why they are being sued in the first place.
One of the larger nursing home companies based in Kentucky is Kindred Health Care. They own 226 nursing facilities and 7 assisted care facilities in 28 states, including Kentucky. They had a reported 27% increase in revenues for 2011 over 2010. They just released the 2nd quarter results for 2012 and all areas have shown increases in revenue, some divisions as high as 37%. Not many companies can say these hard economical times.
Some other nursing homes companies that operate in Kentucky are just leaving. Extendicare announced in July 2012 that they are looking to lease out their 21 Kentucky locations to another vendor. This is after having a barrage of civil suits since 2009, 43 total with five more wrongful death suits filed in 2012. However, do not get to upset over their predicament either. Although not as healthy as Kindred health Care, they did still see a 2.6% increase in revenue for 2011 over 2010. Not too shabby in a down economy.
Blaming Lawsuits Versus Increasing Care
Lawsuits cost companies money; there is no doubt about it. However, maybe not as much as increasing care for nursing home patients. With these large companies complaining about the losses due to lawsuits, it seems that the obvious answer would be to increase staffing and level of care to reduce incidents of elder abuse and neglect. However, most nursing homes are still understaffed leading one to believe the lawsuits are deemed less expensive than increasing staffing.
- 91% of nursing homes lack adequate staff according to the National Center on Elder Abuse.
- 36% violated elder abuse laws in 2010
- According to a 2011 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, litigation is 20% higher for nursing homes who have low performance standards
It is time that nursing home companies, in Kentucky and the rest of the country, figure out that running from lawsuits and screaming for tort reform is not the answer. Despite all their complaints, many of them are doing very well financially and could do even better. By increasing their care and staffing instead of their legal team, they could see profits go up and lawsuits go down.