DOJ Forms Task Forces to Go After Nursing Homes

The Department of Justice announced last week it was forming task forces in 10 districts to combat fraud and elder abuse in nursing homes.

These teams will bring together federal, state and local prosecutors, law enforcement, and agencies that provide services to the elderly, to coordinate and enhance efforts to pursue nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to their residents.

“Millions of seniors count on nursing homes to provide them with quality care and to treat them with dignity and respect when they are most vulnerable,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery. “Yet, all too often we have found nursing home owners or operators who put their own economic gain before the needs of their residents. These task forces will help ensure that we are working closely with all relevant parties to protect the elderly.”


It is making available a database of sample pleadings and other documents provided by federal prosecutors. They also have a compilation of elder abuse and fraud statutes.

The nursing home industry is fighting back, claiming this is just a political ploy aimed at cost-cutting measures.

American Health Care Association President and CEO Mark Parkinson said the task forces paint the wrong picture of the long-term care industry.
“We support any effort to improve overall care and weed out bad actors, but today's announcement mistakenly conveys that quality is on the decline,” Parkinson said in a statement. “It is a smokescreen aimed at finding cost cutting measures that would threaten life-improving post-acute and long term care services for millions of seniors.”

Is anyone other than those in the nursing home industry buying his response?

Here is the list of locations getting a task force:

Northern District of California, Northern District of Georgia, District of Kansas, Western District of Kentucky, Northern District of Iowa, District of Maryland, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Washington.

I wonder if the districts getting the task forces are indicators of where DOJ thinks seniors are most at risk, or is based on geography to ensure all districts are represented. I have no idea, but given these locations, it seems like the former.

< Saturday Open Thread: Belated April Fools' Edition | Air Strike Kills al Nusra Spokesman in Syria >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    This is another one (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by NYShooter on Mon Apr 04, 2016 at 03:42:51 PM EST
    of those phenomenons that is unique to the U.S. and maybe a few others. Similar to ignoring global warning, infrastructure, fiscal planning, etc, America simply has a problem with long term thinking.

    Every human on earth will grow old and require some assistance during later life. But, like the stock market, short term fixes seem to be the best we can do. For whatever reason other countries (see China) have developed cultures that tend to revere their seniors, and families there come together to assist in their later lives. Like so many other things, we try to figure out how to privatize functions that should never be left to "for profit" institutions.

    This conversation could go on forever, but it comes down to answering one question, "what kind of country do we want America to be?"

    The Republicans have answered that question, "feed the rich," they don't have long-term problems. Unfortunately, the Democrats aren't far behind.

    Interesting... (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Apr 04, 2016 at 05:12:31 PM EST
    ... in that my friend's mother recently died, born and raised here, but she was getting ready to move to the Philippines with her husband for this very reason.  They can hire two medical nurses to live in their home for cheaper than our old folks home.  Most of the elderly people in his family are now in the Philippines.

    That is shameful, they are middle class people and his father was an executive, but they didn't want to burn their retirement on Americas joke of elderly care.  Not sure what he is going to do as she was the one who still had a solid mind.

    Last time they went, the relatives had to ask him to leave because he kept playing grab A with one of the nurses and she was not down with it.  He had brain cancer and they took a lot of gray matter, he has never been the same.  I don't think he even knows who I am and before that he was a pretty smart guy.

    I think they found a male nurse and thought that would be a viable option.  Otherwise he is going to be in a home with limited mental capacity and no one wants to do that because unlike the nursing home industry, we all know what that means.

    As a person who doesn't have kids, I am lot looking forward to old age at the hands of our current system.


    Having recently had a close relative (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by scribe on Thu Apr 07, 2016 at 07:19:41 AM EST
    go through the hospital - hospice - nursing home system, I can say it's a landscape stark with opportunities for abuse.  That's not to say every situation winds up being abusive, just that the opportunities are there.  And, when there's opportunity, some will take it.  

    My dad passed last fall after winning a battle with cancer some years back, only to have it return and finish him off.  He had been adamant in life about "ain't never going to no damned nursing home".  As it turned out he wound up going on his own terms, from the hospice stop on his last (as prescribed by insurance) day in hospice before he would have to have gone to the nursing home.  The relative who was in charge of his care had been visiting different homes the day before.  

    We had and have no complaints about the treatment he received both in the hospital and in the hospice.  If one has to go, it was what the reasonable person would want - room for the family to be present, clean, staff both professional, empathetic and caring, well-run.  

    During his cancer treatment some years back his most constant complaint was not about the bowel incontinence his chemo caused him, nor any of the rest of the cancer treatment.  Rather, it was about the parade of different flavors of professionals who would poke their head in on him, maybe make a notation on his chart, and then disappear.  He had a hard time knowing who they were and even less what their purpose was, beyond collecting from his insurance.  And his care came from a relatively professional, careful, non-fraudulent operation.  I can only shudder at the frauds that can, and doubtless do, take place in less circumspect operations.  I've been in on nursing home abuse cases for injured plaintiffs.  You do not want to know the horrors some elders are subjected to by staff, nor how their finances get raped by the operators.

    So, to the extent the feds are going after fraudsters I have no problem.  OTOH, if they take the easy, cheap way of counting doses of painkillers and playing doctor (Mengele), they should just pack up and go home.

    This seems like an odd statement for the (none / 0) (#1)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 04, 2016 at 10:13:28 AM EST
    industry to use in their own defense:
    "It is a smokescreen aimed at finding cost cutting measures that would threaten life-improving post-acute and long term care services for millions of seniors."

    Are they saying the government is trying to stop the harmful cost cutting? If so, yay big government.

    There has been rapid growth in (none / 0) (#2)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Apr 04, 2016 at 10:42:18 AM EST
    "rehab" facilities where I live.  Medicare patients here are alloted 30 days of rehab per year.  My mom uses these after Hospital visits, which have become increasingly frequent.  The "rehab" interval also serves as respite for the caregivers and family.

    The facilities my Mom uses were all new and shiny, well managed and highly organized.  Velvet glove dictatorships, more or less.

    At least in Michigan, no one is paying for long term care.  There are rules concerning hospice care, six month windows, but they seem to get trampled.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the DOJ is going after pain killers.  An unethical facility could keep the patients doped with pain killers and save the cost of all those other meds they're billing for.

    There are a lot of things wrong with end-of-life.


    I Doubt they are Going After... (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Apr 04, 2016 at 11:33:28 AM EST
    ... pain pills for the elderly.

    They clearly state abuse and fraud, that is physical abuse, not drug abuse.

    If they do go after meds, it will be the employees skimming, fraud, not the actual person not getting what they are prescribed.

    There is no push to keep older people from getting addicted to pain meds.  And IMO there never will be.

    This is a long time coming.  Good for them and this notion that this is driven by the government's want to trim costs doesn't even make sense, is trimming costs are a bad thing, and the people who benefit the most from inefficiency should be more worried about the abuse than governmental inefficiency in any press release.

    It just screams 'we like things the way they are' but I doubt many other agree.


    I hope not. (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by linea on Mon Apr 04, 2016 at 07:09:06 PM EST
    I oppose this trend to deny pain medication to people in need. I would rather see people treated for pain even if a few people abuse medication or are predisposed to "addiction" (whatever that means). I'm completely supportive of long term opiate use if it controls pain long term. I feel it's rediculous ti make people suffer in pain when it can be treated. That's just my opinion.