Federal lawmakers said Friday they won't abandon efforts to bring about a HCFA investigation of Louisville, Ky.-based Vencor, even though the company has pulled back from evicting Medicaid patients at some of its nursing homes.
Late last week, Vencor said it aborted its controversial eviction strategy, which was meant to speed its pullout of certain state Medicaid programs. Over the past few months, an undisclosed number of Medicaid patients had been involuntarily discharged from eight Vencor nursing homes scattered across the country.
W. Bruce Lunsford, Vencor chairman and chief executive officer, said the company is pulling out of Medicaid programs in nine states where reimbursement `'does not recognize the medical needs and acuity levels of many long-term patients."
He declined to identify the states or the facilities at which the discharges occurred.
If HCFA investigated Vencor, it would examine whether the company could legally evict Medicaid patients. At least two states bar such actions.
Lunsford apologized for the evictions, and Vencor began re-admitting Medicaid patients who want to stay at the facilities, said Susan Moss, a Vencor spokeswoman.
The company canceled a meeting last week with Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), but a spokesman for Stark said a meeting is expected to occur at an undetermined date.
Vencor does not plan to admit new Medicaid patients at certain facilities. The company said it will gradually pull out of some Medicaid programs by not filling beds with new Medicaid patients as they empty. Less than 5% of its nursing homes will be affected, it said.
Vencor intends to market its nursing homes to more affluent Medicare and private-pay elderly.
In a statement, Lunsford said: "While we should have done a better job of notifying residents and their families in advance, medical care for these patients was never compromised."
Vencor draws $1.7 billion, or 54%, of its $3.2 billion in annual revenues from its 309 nursing homes. Medicaid accounts for 43% of the nursing home revenues.
Vencor also operates 60 long-term-care inpatient hospitals, which weren't involved in the discharges.
-- With Eric Weissenstein