Business as Usual

This is not an aberration. This is for-profit health care working as it must…

A state official in New Jersey has reviewed the cases of scores of elderly people who were kicked out of assisted living facilities — simply because they could no longer pay at the highest rates. In a new report, Ron Chen, the state’s public advocate, concludes that state regulations in New Jersey and around the country fail to protect elderly residents.

John Myers, 93, and his wife, Mae, 88, went through about $180,000 of their savings in three years at an Assisted Living Concepts facility in Burlington, N.J. But late last year, John Myers lost a lot of his money in the stock market. The family asked about going on Medicaid; that would have meant they would pay about 20 percent less, according to Chen’s report. Instead, they were evicted.

The Myers ended up moving in with their daughter. John Myers died and his wife is now in a nursing home.

I am employed in maintaining the safety net that keeps elderly people in their own homes with caretakers who come to them. I see many people who could benefit from assisted living, but for most it is unaffordable. The problem is that the in-home support is underfunded and sometimes inadequate. There’s not enough mid-level between a few hours of CNA help in a dilapidated house and the palatial assisted living that few can afford.

A business like an assisted living has to maximize profits. A snake has to bite. It’s nature.

There are many levels of need in between total independence and the nursing home. For older people and their families it’s buyer beware. We have a responsibility to search for creative solutions to the problems of aging. We boomers are looking at our parents, and ourselves, not getting any younger.

It’s a shame the Myers didn’t get a legal contract they could enforce. Assisted Living Concepts might have been more ruthless than most, but there are many medical services that won’t accept Medicaid. The reimbursement is less.

Medicaid overall is a huge chunk of money. Medicaid is our tax dollars, it’s the safety net for young and old. It can be spent to build nursing homes or to bring the care to people living in their own homes. Rhode Island is in the process of deciding how our Medicaid dollar is spent.

For-profit health care has to follow its nature. That’s what we have now. Rationing is in process, according to where the money goes, which is why it is easier to get a surgeon to put a feeding tube in a man who is going to die tomorrow than to get a dentist to treat a dental infection before it damages a teenager’s heart. Save now, pay later.


4 thoughts on “Business as Usual

  1. Coming back from visiting my mother-in-law in assisted living, this story scares the bejeesuz out of me. She is on a retirement from long years served as the post master for the town, but it’s still scary to think people are being pushed out if their reimbursement gets reduced for reasons out of their control? Yikes.

  2. Also, my mother was a Health Care Finance Administration (HCFA) hospital surveyor. Can HCFA investigate these situations or do they already do that?

  3. Yes. Time to recognize that we have health-care rationing in this country.

    If you have money + insurance, you get the treatment you need.

    If you don’t have either of the above, you get to die younger than you otherwise would have.

    Yup. Best health-care in the world. Unless you’re not wealthy.

    Even people who have insurance really only have it until they get truly sick. Most plans have a life-time max. Hit that, and you’re on your own.

    Over half of ALL bankruptcies involve medical bills. Not big-screen TVs as the RW would have you believe.

    Medical expenses cause more than half of all banktruptcies.

    Remember that when the RW starts screaming about the evils of “socialized medicine.”

  4. This does not surprise me in the least. I worked for this company for 8 years as an adminstrator, and saw the changes first hand. They originaly cared about the seniors, then went to only the money. It used to be that as a senior “spent down” their money, then they could roll in to medicaid, but they stopped that. Upon move in they made us tell them they could, but as they ran out of money, we had to move them into a nursing home under medicaid. The annual raises bacame 25% and higher, even though the increase in expenses was maybe 8%, we were given a list of what to say to “problem residents” with over-exagerated utility and staffing expenses. Though the minimum wage caregiver staff was great, the company overall sucks. They do not care about the residents who live their or the care needed to the seniors. It truly is about the bottom line. I may sound like a disgruntled employee, but I promise you I am not, I have been away from this company for 5 years, and have worked for other large assisted living corporations since then. I have never experienced the extreme disconcern from upper management or ignorance from this Assisted Living company as others. Please do not put your loved one in an Assisted Living Conceoptas facility.

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