Nursing home evictions, also known as involuntary discharges or transfers, can be a huge disruption to the lives of residents.
Illegally evicting a resident at a nursing home may lead to homelessness, separation from familial support systems, and loss of care. According to ElderLawAnswers, since Federal Law covers all federally funded nursing home residents, nursing home evictions are only legal in certain instances, including:
- The nursing home can no longer provide for a resident's needs.
- The resident does not pay for care after "reasonable and appropriate notice," which varies by state.
- The resident no longer needs care.
- The resident jeopardizes the health or safety of other residents.
- The nursing home closes.
Why would a nursing home illegally evict someone?
The main reason for this is due to financial reasons. When residents can't afford to pay for nursing home care anymore, some nursing homes would evict residents without providing sufficient notice and time to apply for Medicaid.
Some nursing homes might also discharge residents early to avoid financial risks. For example, some nursing homes remove residents transitioning from higher-paying Medicare to lower-paying Medicaid.
Other nursing homes discharge residents prematurely because they suspect that residents will not pay for their stays. Medicare covers the initial 20 days of care, and after that, residents are responsible for copayments. A 2019 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine found that nursing homes more often discharged Medicare recipients on the final day of full coverage than before or after, suggesting that some nursing homes prioritize financial considerations over resident care.
Another illegal practice, according to the American Council on Aging, is "Hospital dumping," where individuals returning from hospitalizations may find their beds taken. State laws require that nursing homes hold beds open for hospitalized residents for one to two weeks. Residents receiving Medicaid are also entitled to available Medicaid-certified beds. Other nursing homes may attempt to remove residents they perceive as disruptive or challenging, such as individuals with dementia. According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, discharging residents because nursing homes cannot provide for their needs should not be a common practice.
Residents facing involuntary discharges or transfers from nursing homes may be hesitant to speak up and may not know their rights under federal law
If you or your loved one are facing a nursing home eviction, keep the following in mind:
- Nursing homes must provide 30-day notices of discharge.
- Residents have the right to appeal a release. They may remain in the nursing home during the appeal process.
- Nursing homes claiming to be unable to provide for a resident's needs must document why they can no longer assist the resident. Similarly, nursing homes must tell residents their reasons for discharging residents and provide these reasons in writing. Residents may request explanations of their discharges.
- A long-term care ombudsman is an official who advocates for people in nursing homes. You may contact your ombudsman through the Department of Aging in your state for assistance.
- The national nonprofit Justice in Aging provides a useful resource for resolving common problems with nursing homes.
For further insight and support, be sure to consult a qualified elder law attorney and ensure that you or your loved ones are being provided with the best possible care.
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