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Patients suffer as nursing homes compete for Medicare money

When you have to put an aging parent, a spouse or another loved one into a nursing home, the decision is never easy and almost never comes without doubts. You at least want to be sure that they will be receiving the best possible care and attention. Unfortunately, what you see and what is advertised is not always what you get.

According to an article in the New York Times, nursing homes around the country are engaged in fierce competition for patients covered by Medicare because of the high reimbursement rates offered by the program. But limited durations on Medicare coverage and other issues are leading to inconsistent care, patient injuries and evictions that leave patients with nowhere else to go.

Many nursing homes now seem to be focusing on obtaining short-term patients who are covered under Medicare. These patients are often transferred from hospitals after suffering from an injury or illness. They are lured to these nursing homes by the "chandelier effect," which essentially comes down to enticing amenities and beautiful looking lobbies.

What these nursing facilities often lack, however, is the ability to give patients the attentive and intensive care they need for physical rehabilitation. The Times tells the story of one woman who checked into a Philadelphia nursing home promising "top-notch health care" and a suite of amenities. She was there for just one month before having to be hospitalized for a severe bedsore.

In other cases, patients may receive fine or even excellent care for a limited period of time, but find themselves suddenly evicted when their Medicare coverage limits are reached and they have to transition to Medicaid, which pays less. Many of these patients have nowhere else to go.

Sadly, nursing home neglect and abuse can happen in nearly any facility. But when nursing homes start fighting over profits derived solely from Medicare, the risks for neglect and abuse seemingly get a lot higher.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect, it's important to remember that you have options. Please discuss your case with an experienced and compassionate personal injury attorney.

Source: The New York Times, "In Race for Medicare Dollars, Nursing Home Care May Lag," Katie Thomas, April 14, 2015

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