Inflamed lawmakers target nursing homes

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Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA)
Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA)
Providers were bracing for the worst at press time, as various U.S. and state lawmakers raced into hearings to probe nursing home quality and ownership.

Longtime observers could not recall a similar setting where so many legislators insisted on commencing swift, firm investigations. The fallout was in direct response to a New York Times article in September that detailed how investor-purchased nursing facilities had slipped on quality measures while also apparently cutting staff and boosting profits.

“It's been far too long since Congress has focused on nursing home quality issues,” warned House Ways and Means Committee Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D-CA). He led a hearing Nov. 15, the same day the Senate Special Committee on Aging held another on nursing home “transparency and improvement.”

Two other House chairmen and the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee also were promising aggressive research.

Meanwhile, at least a half dozen state Legislatures were either holding hearings or discussing the planned sale of the largest U.S. nursing home chain, Manor Care, to private equity investors with the Carlyle Group. Shareholders recently approved the sale. 

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