Should Nursing Homes Be for Profit?
"The problem is, in the nursing home industry, making money means cutting care," says Julie Eisenhardt, a spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents employees at about 15 Manor Care homes and which spearheaded a campaign to raise awareness about the buyout.
"They're not there to invest in the care for the residents, they're there to make money," says Charlene Harrington, a professor of nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of the 18-month study. "The way these chains have made money is by cutting the staff to the bare bones and pocketing the profits."
Harrington, who is part of a team that has researched nursing homes for 25 years, says the privatization of chains allows companies to shirk regulatory scrutiny because they are not required to file financial documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or state regulatory agencies.
"These chains have had so many quality problems that they have wanted to go private in order to keep from having the litigation they have," she said.
"I think the size of the transaction, the nature of the business of the proposed buyer and the effects that could be felt by our most frail and vulnerable populations require us to give the proposal extra scrutiny," said State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) at a December hearing before the Illinois Department of Public Health, which regulates the state's nursing facilities.
In December, financial news service Bloomberg reported that the Manor Care purchase was the eighteenth sale of a nursing home operator in the United States in four years. Experts say investment firms' interest in nursing facilities is partially an effort to cash in on the aging of baby boomers into the system.
"As boomers get older, taking care of them is going to be big business," says Eisenhardt of SEIU. "The question is: Do we as a society think it's right that people are trying to make money off taking care of our most vulnerable population?"
What do you think, should "for profits" be prohibited ? Any Boomer's thoughts?