While most states continue ignoring the widespread nursing home abuse problem in America, Kansas recently passed legislation cracking down on nursing homes and exploitative nursing home operators. The legislation passed unanimously by a Republican legislator in response to a particularly dire situation in the state. According to The Kansas City Star, the state took over operations of 22 financially troubled nursing homes just last year. According to the newspaper, the out-of-state nursing home operators had fallen behind on basic bills like food and medication. With the health and safety of the nursing home residents at risk, the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services had “no choice” but to take over the beleaguered elder care facilities.
The new law requiring extensive financial disclosure for any person or business entity hoping to own a nursing home hopes to solve this problem. Any prospective buyers will also need to show a “12-month operating budget” for the facility and a sufficient amount of funds to follow through on the budget, according to Skilled Nursing News. “It gives us a better opportunity to maybe know in advance if somebody coming in is maybe in financial difficulties,” Rep. Brenda Landwehr told The Kansas City Star. The new state law will also make it easier to remove negligent or financially irresponsible nursing home operators and create a “blacklist” of operators with a record of poor care in other states.
The new law, which was passed and signed into law by Republicans controlling both the legislature and the governorship, stems from the collapse of Skyline Health in 2017. Skyline Health had a history of financial difficulties – owing almost $2 million – when it applied for nursing home licenses in Kansas. Despite the nursing home company’s poor record, Kansas still granted it licenses to operate the nursing homes. Within a year, the nursing home company was faltering on its financial obligations with overdue bills on “laundry, housekeeping, and food.” At the time Skyline Health was granted licenses, Kansas only required prospective nursing home operators to provide proof of enough income to operate the nursing home for a single month, a shockingly low standard.
The new law will hopefully tackle the serious problems that have developed in Kansas and across the country as more nursing homes are operated by large and complex corporate structures. As discussed on this blog, these conglomerates are routinely linked to providing a lower quality of care in the search for higher profits. More states should follow Kansas lead and pass legislation to “ensure the health, safety, welfare and continuity for [nursing home residents].”