Monday, September 14, 2020

Out of sight, out of mind

 Decades of neglect have contributed to a nursing home crisis that, coupled with the coronavirus, has caused countless deaths and untold suffering. America has been failing the elderly for years. There were more than 1,246,000 people in certified American nursing homes in 2019. That’s more than the population of eight U.S. states. But they have no senators, no members of Congress, nobody to speak for them. Too often, they are “out of sight, out of mind” when important decisions are made.  New York State Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, ordered hospitals to return older COVID-19 patients to nursing homes, a  decision that contributed to the death toll.

In what is probably an underestimate over 60,000 American nursing home residents and workers have died from COVID-19. Many more fallen sick. While the pandemic has made the lives of nursing home residents worse, Long-term factors which have had an impact includes an over-reliance on the private sector for social services and Medicaid’s often onerous rules for nursing home coverage, including “spend down” rules that require an older person to use up their assets and “excess” income before qualifying for nursing home assistance, under strict and often complicated rules over how the money can be spent. Medicaid pays for about two-thirds of all Americans in nursing homes — and homes aren't cheap. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average nursing home cost over $80,000 a year in 2016. Nursing home life is expensive. As of 2016, the average monthly cost was $6,844 for a shared room, and additional care needs can drive the cost much higher.

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