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California’s Top Nursing Home Regulator Owns Interest in Nursing Home Chain

On August 12, 2018, Politico reported that Karen Smith – the Director of the California Department of Public Health – has ownership interest in Brookdale Senior Living, which operates many long-term care facilities in California, including 10 nursing homes that are regulated by Smith’s Department. According to Politico, Smith denied her financial stake in Brookdale has any effect on her decisions.

The public might disagree. Under Smith’s watch, the Department has favored nursing home operators over nursing home residents at almost every opportunity. For example, Smith’s Department:

While complaints against nursing homes soared to levels never seen before and nursing home chains siphoned off hundreds of millions of dollars intended for resident care, Smith stood silent. It is more than fair to wonder whose interests she is protecting.

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