The White House announced yesterday nursing home reforms to, “improve the safety and quality of nursing home care, hold nursing homes accountable for the care they provide, and make the quality of care and facility ownership more transparent so that potential residents and their loved ones can make informed decisions about care.”
The reforms focus on nursing home staffing, accountability for unsafe care, and transparency for the public about the conditions in nursing homes before selecting a facility.
The White House noted the impact of long-standing substandard conditions at nursing homes, including the deaths of more than 200,000 residents and staff from COVID-19. Many of these nursing homes have a history of failing to comply with existing federal regulations, with little consequence.
Tens of billions of tax dollars flow to nursing homes each year, with private equity and real estate investment firms purchasing an increasing number of facilities. Recent research shows that private equity-owned nursing homes tend to have significantly worse outcomes for residents. The study concluded that “private equity acquisition of nursing homes was associated with higher costs and increases in emergency department visits and hospitalizations for ambulatory sensitive conditions.”
Specifically, private equity ownership is associated with an increase in excess deaths, unnecessary use of antipsychotic drugs, and decreased staffing. Those nursing homes also cost more in taxpayer dollars. Private equity-backed nursing homes also had higher-than-average rates of COVID-19 infection and death.
The White House plan will set minimum staffing levels, to be set within the next year, reduce the use of shared rooms, and “crack down on the poorest-performing nursing homes to reduce the risk of residents contracting infectious diseases.”