Database showing gaps in nursing home ownership, report says

A federal database intended to disclose ownership of nursing homes contains patchy and incomplete information that can obscure whether a private equity firm controls a facility, according to a new report from Public Citizen.

Why is this important: An increase in private equity investment in the sector has coincided with poorer health outcomes, studies show. And the pandemic has cast a spotlight on the quality of care after more than 200,000 residents and staff at long-term care facilities succumbed to COVID-19.

Yes, but: The private equity industry cites other research showing that the quality of care at its companies is comparable to that of other types of retirement homes and has not faltered during COVID-19.

Rollback: During his first State of the Union address in March, President Biden said he wanted to increase transparency around nursing homes, including the effects of private ownership.

  • “As Wall Street corporations take over more retirement homes, the quality of those homes has gone down and the costs have gone up. It’s ending on my watch,” Biden said.

What they found: Only seven of the 13 Public Citizen private equity firms identified as retirement home owners are listed in the federal database.

  • One company, Portopiccolo, which was recently featured in the New Yorker for alleged questionable nursing practices, could not be found in the database, despite owning 136 nursing homes, according to Public Citizen.
  • Knowing who owns these retirement homes is important in order to hold companies accountable, said Taylor Lincoln, research director for Public Citizen and lead author of the report.
  • “The retirement homes I’ve reviewed owned by private equity firms don’t fully disclose their owners. The data isn’t good.”

And after: The Government Accountability Office expects two reports to be released soon to delve into the matter.

  • Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee, who requested the reports, may take up the issue in the next Congress. The Biden administration could also take further steps to enforce transparency through new regulations, Lincoln said.

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