Coronavirus Patients Could Reportedly Pull in Big Bucks for Nursing Homes
Todd Starnes, the host of the “Todd Starnes Radio Show,” has warned that cash-strapped hospitals could inflate their coronavirus numbers for government payouts and now reports indicate that there are also huge financial incentives for nursing homes to take in COVID-19 patients.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday that patients suffering from COVID-19 could be worth “more than four times what homes are able to charge for long-term residents with relatively mild health issues.”
The report pointed out that these financial incentives may prompt “unscrupulous” nursing home operators to swap out longterm patients for those with the virus. COVID-19 patients can bring in $800 per day under the new Medicare reimbursement guidelines compared to, for example, $200 per day for patients with dementia. There are fears that some unprepared nursing homes could risk lives in order to turn a hefty profit.
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It has been widely reported that seniors and those with a compromised immune system are at greatest risk if infected by coronavirus, and nursing homes across the U.S. have been decimated by the virus. The Los Angeles Times reported that corporate chains with “complex ownership structures” might add to the problem.
“Nursing homes would like the public to think this just happened to them, but it didn’t,” Charlene Harrington, a UC San Francisco professor emeritus, told the Times. “The chains were bad to begin with, and they were just not prepared for this pandemic.”
Starnes has questioned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s counting method used to tally deaths and said its guidelines can easily be inflated by hospitals for financial gains and then overlooked by government officials looking for evidence that that coronavirus lockdown was needed.
Starnes interviewed a top U.S. health official last week and said the numbers concern him because “it sounds to me the numbers are being inflated and we don’t know the reasons why.” He asked, Is it a financial reason, because hospitals need the money to pay their bills, or is it because at the end of the day the virus is less deadly than the seasonal flu?
The Union-Tribune report said it has always been attractive for these nursing homes to take in these short-term patients. There is reportedly growing concern that some of these nursing home operators can essentially ship out relatively healthy patients in favor of these COVID-19 ones.
“There are probably some unscrupulous operators who would jump at this,” David Grabowsi, a professor of healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School, told the paper. But he pointed out that most would not.