States are creating a “perverse financial incentive” to push poor-performing nursing homes to take care of COVID-19-positive patients, Politico claims in a report.
California, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Mexico, among other states, want to relieve pressure on crowded hospitals, so they are creating extra incentives for nursing homes to take coronavirus patients. Treating them can bring in double or more the funding of regular residents, Politico noted.
Eager for revenue, some nursing facilities are creating special wings for all COVID-19 facilities. Many of these facilities, however, have low ratings or a history of infection control deficiencies, the news agency said. For example, eight of 20 nursing homes selected by the state government to build wings for coronavirus-positive patients, in Michigan, are currently rated as “below average” or “much below average,” on the five-star nursing home rating scale, according to Politico.
Consumer advocates say that this development could wind up exposing more vulnerable seniors to the virus. Other medical and public experts agree such a trend could be troubling.
“There’s no way that one-star and two-star facilities, for the most part, should be doing this unless they can show that there’s been a big change in management” or a partnership with a hospital system, said David Grabowski, Ph.D., a long-term care aging expert at Harvard Medical School.