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Nursing home patients on Medicaid at higher risk for neglect

Placing a family member in a care facility or nursing home is a difficult decision made by many Chicago families every year. To compound the problem, many residents may be apprehensive about moving an elderly loved one to a nursing home due to a fear that they will receive sub-par treatment as a Medicaid patient. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are guilty of discriminating against their Medicaid patients, and neglect is a common outlet for them to make up for their perceived financial loss at taking these lower-paying patients.

Story of neglect

Kion Channel 5 News recently reported on federal charges levied against two San Francisco, California nursing homes for elder abuse and Medicare fraud.  The U.S. Attorney’s office filed the civil False Claims Act complaint in which they allege that the nursing home provided substandard and worthless services to their Medicare and Medicaid residents located at both facilities. In addition to poor care, the patients were also overmedicated to help keep them more manageable. This shocking story is a great example of practices seen throughout Illinois nursing homes as well.

No discrimination for Medicaid residents

The National Senior Citizens Law Center reports that Medicaid residents are often treated as subpar human beings by nursing home staff and owners. This is often due to the smaller amount of money a Medicaid patient is worth to the facility. Private pay individuals and even Medicare patients bring in far more money per person, so owners may be tempted to cut care to Medicaid patients in order to make up the difference. The Nursing Home Reform Law made this kind of discrimination illegal. According to the NSCLC, a nursing home must always treat every patient the same regardless of their method of payment.

How to protect a loved one

Nursing home staff may claim that they are at a financial disadvantage by providing Medicaid-eligible individuals with the care they need, but patients and family members should refrain from discussing the nursing home’s financial status with staff and instead remind them that the home was the one to seek Medicaid certification, and after doing so, promised to provide every individual with the level of care guaranteed in the Nursing Home Reform Law. Patients can remind the facility that it is fraud to accept payment from Medicaid for a resident’s care and thereafter refuse to provide them with the services they need.

Patients should always report any facility they feel is guilty of nursing home negligence. To avoid the problem, Medicaid-eligible patients can opt for a not-for-profit nursing home, as they are more likely to provide patients with the care they need despite payment method.  Those who have suffered an injury due to the negligent or abusive behavior of staff at a nursing home should contact a Chicago personal injury attorney to discuss their matter.

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