The Maryland Attorney General announced on October 26, 2018 the settlement of a Maryland lawsuit filed against the former operator of five Maryland nursing homes and its owner in which the defendants agreed to be permanently precluded from engaging directly or indirectly in the management or operation of nursing facilities in Maryland and from participating as providers in the Maryland Medicaid program. The defendants also agreed to pay $2.2 million to Maryland and to drop a federal lawsuit that the defendants had filed against employees of the Maryland Department of Health in March 2017.
The Maryland nursing home patient dumping lawsuit alleged that the defendants had engaged in unfair, unsafe, and unlawful discharge practices affecting hundreds of residents and had submitted false claims to Maryland’s Medicaid program. The defendants had discontinued their operation of their Maryland nursing facilities in February 2018.
The lawsuit that was filed in 2016 alleged that the defendants engaged in systemic violations of the discharge-related provisions of the Maryland Patient’s Bill of Rights, which protects nursing home residents in Maryland. Specifically, Maryland alleged that, among other things, the defendants issued hundreds of eviction notices for asserted nonpayment to residents who had not failed to pay, and dumped numerous vulnerable residents in homeless shelters and predatory unlicensed assisted living facilities, where they faced financial exploitation and abuse. During a 17-month period, from January 1, 2015 to May 31, 2016, the defendants issued at least 1,061 eviction notices to residents of its facilities (in that same period, Maryland’s 225 other licensed nursing facilities issued a combined total of less than half that number).
Maryland further alleged that the defendants identified residents for eviction based on the status of their public health insurance benefits in order to maximize reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid. Because the Medicare program typically reimburses nursing facilities at a higher rate than Medicaid, the defendants allegedly sought to evict residents when its facilities were at full capacity and when Medicaid long term care recipients could be replaced with prospective residents whose care would be paid for by Medicare.
In a February 2018 decision in State v. NMS, the Court of Appeals of Maryland upheld the Maryland Attorney General’s authority under the Maryland Patient’s Bill of Rights to prevent nursing homes from illegally dumping frail, vulnerable patients, recognizing that the statute “demonstrate[s] clear legislative intent to limit involuntary discharges and transfers, and ensure that when they do occur, they are subject to procedural controls ensuring a resident’s health and safety.” The Court of Appeals held that, under the law, “the Attorney General may bring suit on behalf of multiple unnamed residents who have been subject to, or await, imminent, unlawful involuntary discharges, provided that at least one individual’s statutory rights have been violated,” and that the Maryland Attorney General may obtain “complete injunctive relief” for violations of the law.
The Maryland Patient’s Bill of Rights was amended in 1995 at the urging of the Maryland Attorney General in legislation known at the time as “Anna Mae’s law,” after a Maryland nursing home abandoned an elderly resident on her lawyer’s front porch.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home in Maryland or in another U.S. state due to nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, nursing home under-staffing, or the nursing home failing to properly care for a vulnerable adult, you should promptly find a nursing home claim lawyer in Maryland (a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer) or a nursing home claim lawyer in your state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home claim on your behalf or behalf of your loved one, if appropriate.
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