Nursing home evictions, or involuntary discharges or transfers, disrupt the lives of residents, leading to homelessness, separation from familial support systems, and loss of care. As federal law covers all federally funded nursing home residents, nursing home evictions are legal only in particular instances, such as:
Causes of illegal nursing home evictions
Financial motives are a significant cause of illegal nursing home evictions. When residents can no longer pay for nursing home care, some nursing homes evict residents without providing sufficient notice and time to apply for Medicaid.
Additionally, some nursing homes discharge residents early to avoid financial risks. For instance, some nursing homes remove residents transitioning from higher-paying Medicare to lower-paying Medicaid.
Other nursing homes discharge residents prematurely, suspecting residents will not pay for their stays. Medicare covers the initial 20 days of care. After 20 days, residents are responsible for copayments. A 2019 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine found that nursing homes more often discharged Medicare recipients on the final day of full coverage than before or after, suggesting that some nursing homes prioritize financial considerations over resident care.
“Hospital dumping,” where individuals returning from hospitalizations may find their beds taken, is another illegal practice, according to the American Council on Aging. State laws require that nursing homes hold beds open for hospitalized residents for one to two weeks. Residents receiving Medicaid are also entitled to available Medicaid-certified beds.
Other nursing homes may attempt to remove residents they perceive as disruptive or challenging, such as individuals with dementia. These facilities claim that they cannot meet the resident’s needs as a pretense for evicting them. Yet once nursing homes open their doors to residents, they have already determined they can meet residents’ needs. According to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, discharging residents because nursing homes cannot provide for their needs should not be a common practice.
Dynamics between residents and nursing homes
Residents facing involuntary discharges or transfers from nursing homes may be hesitant to speak up and may not know their rights under federal law. They may feel pressure to accept discharges, even when they are not ready to go home.
If you or your loved one are facing a nursing home eviction, keep the following in mind: