California nursing home group responds to allegations of improper use of funds

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A recent article from the group California Watch is “deceptive and a disservice to providers, employees and 300,000 Californians who receive quality, compassionate care at skilled nursing facilities each year,” Jim Gomez, president and CEO of the California Association of Health Facilities, said in a written statement.

Gomez responded to the article in a letter to news organizations that reported on the California Watch item. California Watch alleged that a number of California nursing homes improperly used their share of $880 million from a 2004 law designed to increase wages and hire staff to instead increase profits, while at the same time cutting wages and staff. (McKnight's, 4/21/10) California Watch is an investigative news organization, according to its Web site.

“The article selectively ignored aggregate data and singled out a small number of facilities where staffing fluctuated—and where wages may have legitimately declined—and added the numbers together to reach an incorrect and misleading conclusion, ignoring the positive trends taking place in the profession,” Gomez said.

He added that the law was designed to allow nursing homes to make a modest profit, reasoning that profitable facilities can afford to hire more staff, provide better care, make physical improvements, borrow money and maintain stability.

“Who would want to place a loved one in a home that was not allowed to operate in the black?” Gomez noted.

A total of 96% of the $880 million was used to pay for expenses and provide care and services, Gomez said. Turnover is down by 11% since 2002, and between 2004 and 2008, overall wages, salaries and benefits increased 27%, he adds. Overall staffing also increased during that time, according to Gomez.

To read Gomez's full statement, download the document above.