Headshot of Rep. Bobby Rush
Credit: Franmarie Metzler; U.S. House Office of Photography

A U.S. Congressman is seeking to put additional scrutiny on nursing homes with certain investors. 

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) has called on the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to schedule a hearing on the “failures” of nursing homes during the pandemic, operating practices of real estate investment trusts and the impact both have had on residents, USA Today reported over the weekend. The subcommittee falls under the Committee on Energy and Commerce. 

Rush went as far as saying Congress should “prohibit REITs from operating nursing homes” in the letter he sent earlier this month. He argued REITs shouldn’t have the authority to operate nursing homes or receive public funding. 

Some of the biggest REITs in the long-term care sector own hundreds of facilities each. Rush did not specifically mention any REITs in the letter. 

“I believe that the profiteering, cold-hearted nature of these corporations must be exposed, and it is up to Congress — and specifically, the Energy and Commerce Committee — to shine a bright light on the current practices, to rein them in, and to set and strictly enforce high standards for performance,” Rush wrote. “It is Congress’s job to stand in-between greedy corporations and those who are the most defenseless.” 

Rush’s letter came in response to the USA Today’s highly critical nursing home investigation that highlighted a five-month surge from October 2020 through February 2021, when about 71,000 nursing home residents died from COVID-19.

The American Health Care Association on Monday said it supports financial transparency of nursing homes and efforts to further improve accountability. It also noted that nursing homes already report ownership and financing through a vast array of current requirements. 

“However, neither ownership nor line items on a budget sheet prove whether a nursing home is committed to its residents,” the association said in a statement to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News

“What’s going to improve care is growing our workforce, incentivizing providers to improve on key quality metrics, and investing in our chronically underfunded long-term care system,” AHCA added. “Policymakers and stakeholders should work together to put forth meaningful solutions that will make a positive impact across the entire industry.”