More lawmakers turn up heat on private equity nursing home ownership

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Private equity firms received another bitter pill this week after the chairmen of two House committees announced plans for a "rigorous investigation" into private equity ownership of nursing homes.

The disclosure comes after the highest members of the Senate Finance Committee sent letters to five private equity firms inquiring about their operations. At issue is whether nursing homes owned by private equity firms are providing proper treatment for residents, said Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), chairman of the Committee on Financial Services and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The congressmen said their respective committees would do some fact gathering, potentially followed by hearings and legislative proposals.

Earlier this week, Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, which represents nonprofit facilities, said it would not "sit on the sidelines" if asked by lawmakers to weigh in on the debate.

Lawmakers from both the House and Senate cited a recent New York Times investigation as reasons for their investigations. The story, which was published in September, found that care deficiencies were higher overall at facilities owned by private equity firms, and that the firms cut staffing to boost profits.