AARP launches lawsuit against provider over alleged resident dumping

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A California long-term care facility is on the receiving end of a first-of-its-kind lawsuit from AARP. The seniors advocacy organization has accused the provider of “dumping” residents who require the most care and staff time.

The suit was launched by AARP on behalf of Gloria Single, a former resident of Pioneer House in Sacramento, CA. Pioneer House staff said Single became combative and was sent to a hospital to be evaluated, NPR reported Monday. The hospital did not find anything wrong with Single, but Pioneer House reportedly refused to readmit her, claiming it couldn't care for someone with her level of needs.

Single's son was able to get a hearing with the California Department of Health Care Services to protest the facility's decision, which he won — only to be told later that the department has no authority to enforce the outcomes of its hearings.

The lawsuit, which was filed last month, marks the first time AARP's legal team has sued a long-term care organization over alleged “patient dumping,” in which providers evict residents in favor of more lucrative patients. Attorneys with the AARP Foundation called for a federal investigation into nursing home evictions in California last year; a citizens group also sued the state in 2015 over the practice.

"We certainly hope we can get Mrs. Single some relief," William Alvarado Rivera, the AARP Foundation's senior vice president for litigation, told NPR. “But we also hope that there is a lesson to be learned by facilities — that there will be accountability for their failure to respect the due process rights of their residents."

Pioneer House and its parent company, the Retirement Housing Foundation, said in a statement to NPR that they “intend to vigorously defend the allegation set forth in the lawsuit."

The suit seeks an injunction requiring Pioneer House to readmit Single and “stop dumping vulnerable residents,” as well as damages for each day that the provider has violated readmission and discharge laws.

“It has taken the extreme measure of bringing this case because nursing facilities, such as Pioneer House, routinely ignore State Readmission Orders because the State refuses to enforce them itself,” the lawsuit reads.