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Nursing homes' accountability

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The letter “Threat to nursing homes” (June 7 and TribLIVE.com) by the administrator of ManorCare Health Services-Shadyside failed to mention a number of significant facts relevant to ensuring good care for residents in nursing homes.

She claims Medicaid payments are insufficient to cover the costs of resident care. However, there is little accountability for how providers use the money they collect from taxpayers, whether it be for administrator salaries, care staff, service contracts, etc.

Staffing costs tend to be the biggest factor in direct care costs and staffing levels are widely considered the most important indicator of quality of care and quality of life for residents. Thus, it might interest Trib readers to know that her facility is owned by a for-profit corporation and that, according to Medicare's Nursing Home Compare website, this for-profit facility's registered nurse time per patient per day is 44 minutes, more than 20 percent below the state average of 56 minutes.

For years, the nursing home industry has blackmailed policymakers and the public by saying that it is not paid enough to provide decent care, dignity or quality of life for our elders. Yet nursing homes continue to be a desirable business for corporate chains such as the one that owns the letter-writer's facility.

Rather than throwing more money at the industry, we should be holding providers accountable for achieving the minimum standards that they promise to meet when they contract for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement.

Richard Mollot

New York City

The writer is executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition (ltccc.org).

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