NJ Nursing Homes Fail to Improve Following Medicaid Fraud Report
In February of this year, the state comptroller issued a report examining New Jersey’s lowest-rated nursing homes participating in the Medicaid program.
Of the 368 nursing homes in New Jersey, 15 were identified as the worst long-term care facilities in the state, ranked “one-star” by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) based on criteria such as staffing levels, health inspections, and quality measures.
Several months later, more than half of these facilities have failed to improve their quality of care—and continue to cost Medicaid hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
What’s changed since the February report?
Since the initial report was issued, six of the 15 identified nursing homes have made their way off the list of lowest-ranked facilities. Nine remain on the list—including Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center, which was forcefully shut down last month due to charges of neglect and abuse—and three have been added.
An updated September report shows that the current 12 lowest-ranked facilities are receiving $107 million per year in Medicaid funding, despite repeated health and safety citations.
These facilities include:
Cedar Grove Respiratory and Nursing Center (formerly Meadowview Nursing and Respiratory Care)
Forest Manor HCC
Grove Park Healthcare and Rehabilitation (formerly New Grove Manor)
Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation
Oceana Rehabilitation and NC
Palace Rehabilitation and Care Center
Phoenix Center for Rehabilitation and Pediatrics (formerly Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation)
Silver Healthcare Center (formerly Alaris Health at Cherry Hill)
South Jersey Extended Care
Warren Haven Rehab and Nursing Center
Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center (recently closed)
Disputing the findings
Some industry officials have disputed the report’s findings.
“The comptroller’s report does not reflect timely or accurate information,” said Andrew Aronson, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of New Jersey. “Several of the facilities that have not yet ‘graduated’ from the list since February are long overdue for state survey that would confirm their improvement.”
Aronson cites the Department of Health’s staffing shortages as a factor preventing the state from acquiring correct information.
That said, according to the comptroller, CMS ratings dating back to 2013 reveal that a number of nursing homes on the list have held their low rankings for several years, showing little to no signs of improvement.
Taking steps to promote quality care
According to the report, all of these one-star facilities were operated by for-profit companies. According to Tom Hester, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Human Services, quality incentive payments (QIPP) have been cut to each of the 12 nursing homes.
“Delivering safe and high-quality health care coverage and spending resources effectively is at the core of Medicaid’s mission,” he said. “We will continue to work with partners across the state and federal government to ensure the best possible care for residents at New Jersey’s long-term care facilities.”
This follows recommendations from the initial report to incentivize higher-quality care, rather than paying the lowest-rated facilities at the same rate as those that are higher-rated. Essentially, if a nursing home wants to remain in the Medicaid program, it must provide quality care to its residents.