Nursing homes acquired by private investment firms were no more likely to have serious deficiencies in care or to decrease their registered nurse staffing than either for-profit or not-for-profit nursing homes, according to a government audit released Monday (PDF). However, critics panned their relatively high rates of total deficiencies and lower overall nurse staffing rates.
Investor-owned homes compare favorably: GAO
The Government Accountability Office report, which stemmed from concerns over the safety implications of non-public investment groups buying nursing homes in recent years, found such facilities generally compared favorably in the most critical areas. For instance, despite concerns that such facilities would cut costs to improve profitability, the GAO found facility costs increased in those facilities, even as their profit margins also increased.
“It is possible to increase both costs and margins because certain expenditures may prevent subsequent, costly care, or increase a home's attractiveness to better paying residents,” said John Dicken, director of health care for GAO, who authored the report.
Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), who requested the report also with Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), criticized the finding that private investor-owned nursing homes appeared to attract patients enrolled in Medicare and other relatively generous payers over Medicaid beneficiaries.
“The system should not overpay for certain patients, which creates incentives for nursing homes to spiff up their buildings and set staffing levels to entice profitable patients,” Stark, ranking member on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, said in a written statement.
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