The Sorry (and Frightening) State of Long-Term Care Facilities

A heartbreaking article in the New York Times (“Long-Term Care Hospitals Face Little Scrutiny”) reveals a disturbing level of patient neglect…sometimes to the point of leaving the helpless elderly to die in pain and alone. It highlights once again what we have seen ourselves: that for-profit long-term care hospitals provide significantly inferior care to traditional, not-for-profit hospitals.

The long-term care hospitals collect money–a projected $4.8 billion this year–from Medicare, and yet they face little or no oversight. Medicare has never closely examined the care given, and Medicare doesn’t penalize the facilities financially if they don’t provide data on the quality of care. State inspections reveal that these facilities are cited for serious violations of Medicare rules at least twice as often as regular hospitals.

The article describes how hospitals play the Medicare system to gather the most money possible, at the expense of patient care.

“Under Medicare, hospitals receive a payment for a patient based on the patient’s diagnosis, not the cost of care. Patients who recover quickly are profitable, but those who languish are not.” (excerpt from the NYT article)

This article should be required reading–it might help you understand how hospital decisions are made…and what red-flags you should look out for. It’s a powerful–if painful–story.

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