Maryland Sues Nursing Homes for Kicking Out Residents When the Medicare Payments Stop
April 4th, 2017 by Attorney Roger Weinberg
It’s not often that a government entity sues a nursing home operator for how they treat their residents, which is why private lawsuits like the ones we file for our clients are usually the only way for residents and their families to try to obtain justice. But one operator’s ongoing treatment of residents was so blatantly wrong that Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh sued it in December.
Neiswanger Management Services (NMS), which operates five nursing homes in the state, is accused of aggressively and illegally removing residents from its facilities to maximize payments it collects from public health plans. After being kicked out of their nursing homes, many residents were dropped off at homeless shelters or unlicensed and unsafe senior living facilities, according to the complaint filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court, reports the Washington Post.
The company, based in Hyattsville, is alleged to be basing the treatment of residents on the reimbursement differences between federally funded Medicare and Medicaid, which uses state and federal money to pay for health care for low-income patients, including a large number of nursing home residents. NMS is accused of deciding who is treated and who leaves to maximize the number of residents with Medicare whose more than $500-a-day reimbursement is about twice what Medicaid pays.
The complaint states patients were illegally discharged without their consent once their Medicare coverage ran out (normally 100 days after admission) and without the required planning to put them in a “safe and secure environment.” It’s estimated that there are about 700 residents in NMS’s Maryland nursing homes.
Under the law, when NMS involuntarily discharges a resident it must give the person a notice, and the resident must have an opportunity to be heard and possibly fight the discharge.
- In nearly all such notices, NMS states the removal would happen because of payment issues: the resident failed to pay or failed to arrange for payment by Medicare, Medicaid or a third-party payor.
- Over a 17-month period ending in May of last year, NMS’s five nursing homes issued 1,061 discharge notices, while there were 510 notices from all of the state’s other nursing homes combined.
A former resident at NMS’s facility in Hagerstown, Andrew Edwards, is cited in the court complaint as an example of NMS’s wrongdoing. He was interviewed by the Post and said he was satisfied with his care and those who worked there, but he was suddenly removed and driven to an unlicensed senior living facility without handicap access, which Edwards needs.
No one there scheduled his needed dialysis treatment, he became weak and was dropped off at the door of St. Agnes Hospital, where he received emergency dialysis, according to the lawsuit. A hospital social worker found an appropriate facility for Edwards. “I’m glad that I am out of that place,” Edwards is quoted as saying. “It was like a nightmare staying there.”
If your loved one died or was injured because of an unsafe discharge or transfer from an NMS or other Maryland nursing home, contact our office. We can talk about the situation, the applicable laws, what types of damages may be sought and your legal options for obtaining compensation and justice. At the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg you’ll find compassionate support and experienced advocates to help your family through the tough times. Call 410-825-3161 today to schedule a free consultation.