In this Issue
- California Legislature to Take Up Nursing Home Oversight on October 5
- New York Times Calls Out Resident Drugging Hidden by Phony Diagnoses
- Vaccine Mandates for RCFE Workers Starts November 30
- Vaccination Rates for Nursing Home Staff and Residents Now Available on Care Compare
- CMS Trashes State Abandonment of Dumped Residents
- A Tale of Nursing Home Taxpayer Ripoffs in Three Acts
- CANHR Joins Labor and Civil Rights Organizations Supporting the Rights of LGBTQ Long Term Care Residents
California Legislature to Take Up Nursing Home Oversight on October 5
On Tuesday, October 5 at 1:30 PM, the California Assembly Health Committee is holding an informational hearing on state oversight of nursing homes. After the completion of testimony from government officials, industry representatives, and resident advocates and questions from the Committee members, the public will have an opportunity for comment.
This hearing is a golden opportunity to advance the cause of nursing home reform. Please call into the hearing and weigh in for better nursing home oversight. It is expected that public comments will start around or after 3:30 and each caller will be given a minute or less. So be ready with a quick comment!
CANHR will be testifying at the hearing to promote nursing home ownership reform and adoption of AB 1502 next year. AB 1502 improves suitability standards for those seeking to run nursing homes and ends nursing home squatting – where persons or entities run nursing homes with no approval from the state. Two recent news articles, one from CalMatters and the other from LAist, underscore the need for significant ownership reform. You can watch the hearing by going to the Assembly website on October 5. Call-in information will be posted to the Health Committee website on the day of the hearing. The Committee’s hearings webpage is https://ahea.assembly.ca.gov/hearings.
New York Times Calls Out Resident Drugging Hidden by Phony Diagnoses
A New York Times story has called out the growing use of fake schizophrenia diagnoses in nursing homes. These fake diagnoses conceal the drugging of residents from the public via a shoddy “quality measure” used in the CMS 5-star ratings system. Incredibly, doctors are not making antipsychotic prescriptions to suit a diagnosis, they are making diagnoses to suit a prescription.
The perverse incentives that drive this fantasy medicine are described in the story and have been a concern for several years. Nonetheless, policymakers continue to do nothing and instead enable overdrugging by continuing to find thousands and thousands of instances of drug misuse to be “no harm.”
Vaccine Mandate for RCFE Workers Starts November 30
Following a state and federal requirement for nursing home staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19, the state Department of Public Health has issued a second order covering staff of adult and senior care homes, including Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs). The order requires all staff, outside care providers, and other workers who come into the facility to be fully vaccinated by November 30. The Department of Social Services issued a notice to adult and senior care homes, telling them of the new mandate.
Vaccination Rates for Nursing Home Staff and Residents Now Available on Care Compare
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in a September 21, 2021 press release that it has added a new feature to its Care Compare website to make it easier to check COVID-19 vaccination rates for nursing home staff and residents. The information is intended to help people make informed decisions when choosing a nursing home. To access the vaccination rate data, search a nursing home’s zip code or city on Care Compare, click on the name of the nursing home, then scroll down to click “View COVID-19 Vaccination Rates” to see the data. The information is intended to help people make informed decisions when choosing a nursing home.
CMS is updating the data weekly. Medicare and Medi-Cal certified nursing homes have been required to report weekly COVID-19 vaccination data for both residents and staff since May, and CMS has been posting the information on the CMS COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website. The new vaccination rate tool on Care Compare is in addition to the data being posted on the COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.
CMS Trashes State Abandonment of Dumped Residents
In a major development for CANHR’s six-year effort to force the State of California to enforce its own orders requiring nursing homes to readmit unlawfully evicted residents, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has opined that California’s position in the case is mistaken.
In 2015, fed up with an eviction hearing system that gave residents paper victories but not justice, CANHR and three residents who had been illegally dumped into hospitals sued the State arguing that its hearing system was a sham. In the subsequent years of litigating the case, state officials have spent enormous amounts of time and money to defend its abandonment of illegally evicted residents.
Recently, the judge in the case asked CMS for its opinion on the merits of the State’s arguments. In response, CMS explained that “CMS has repeatedly informed California that [CMS] does not believe the state’s procedures comply with [federal law].” CMS also wrote that California’s legal arguments do “not align with the requirements of the statute and its implementing regulations.” In other words, the State is not fulfilling its legal requirement to enforce hearing decisions and its legal arguments are wrong. That’s what we’ve been telling the State for years.
Enforcing orders requiring nursing homes to readmit illegally evicted residents is not only a lawful imperative, it is a moral imperative. The State shamefully continues to waste taxpayer dollars and state resources on fighting to maintain its rotten abandonment of dumped nursing homes residents. We hope that CMS’s opinion will finally convince the State to do its job.
A Tale of Nursing Home Taxpayer Ripoffs in Three Acts
SEIU California recently released a slideshow summarizing some of the schemes used by nursing homes to hide their profits and skimp on resident care. Facilities in California increasingly use vast networks of corporate shell companies and pay inflated rents and service charges to themselves to siphon more than one billion dollars a year. Facilities use these “related party” expenses to drive down their operating margins, inversely proportional to their payments to themselves, so their owners can claim they need more taxpayer money. The result is owners making more money while residents suffer more neglect. Without full transparency of related party expenses, California will continue to be ripped off. SB 650 (Stern), a bill to promote more nursing home financial transparency, is on the governor’s desk and we urge him to sign it.
CANHR Joins Labor and Civil Rights Organizations Supporting the Rights of LGBTQ Long Term Care Residents
CANHR has joined with Justice in Aging and LGBTQ Senior Organizations to submit an amicus brief to the California Supreme Court, asking the court to review a Court of Appeal decision that invalidated the “pronoun provision” of the LGBT Long Term Care Facility Residents Bill of Rights. The brief supports the argument of the Attorney General and joins other amici in requesting review of the lower court decision.
The brief we signed argues that the Court of Appeal mischaracterized the pronoun provision. This provision makes it unlawful for a long-term care facility staff member to “[w]illingly and repeatedly fail to use a resident’s preferred name or pronouns after being clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns,” and the brief argues that other settings where deliberate misuse of pronouns has been found to be discriminatory support the enforcement of the statute. The particular circumstances of LGBTQ seniors make protection of their rights vital, since they may have more limited choices about how to receive necessary care because they are less likely than non-LGBTQ seniors to have children or other family members available to provide in-home care. Obtaining assistance should not require giving up the right to be treated with respect.