Comptroller says NJ should slash funds to low-rated nursing homes
TRENTON – Fifteen nursing homes in New Jersey that are consistently low-rated receive more than $100 million a year through the state’s Medicaid program, according to a report from the state comptroller that suggests yanking those funds if they don’t improve.
Ratings are based on health inspections, quality measures reported by nursing homes and the number of nursing staff. Inspectors show up unannounced to a nursing home and spend several days evaluating resident rights and quality of life at the facility.
All but one of the 15 long-term care facilities are operated for profit, and around 1,850 people live in them, said acting State Comptroller Kevin Walsh.
“The overarching recommendation we have is to incentivize long-term, one-star nursing homes to not be able to adopt the one-star approach as a business model,” said Walsh, whose office acts as Medicaid inspector general for the state.
Walsh said the report recommends that the state Department of Human Services and Department of Health, which disburse Medicaid funds and conduct the inspections, get nursing homes to improve their care or risk losing funds.
“Impose restrictions on one-star facilities until they improve their care or bar them ultimately, after some chances, at getting Medicaid funds if they do not,” Walsh said.
“With over $100 million a year going to these one-star facilities, it’s a massive tool. It’s massive leverage the state can and should use to improve the kind of care people are getting in nursing homes,” he said. “Bottom line, New Jersey taxpayers should not be funding nursing homes that are disproportionately likely to put people in harm’s way.”
The comptroller’s office launched a digital dashboard with detailed information about 15 nursing homes:
- Care One at Evesham in Marlton, Burlington County
- Cedar Grove Respiratory and Nursing Center in Williamstown, Gloucester County
- Complete Care at Fair Lawn Edge in Paterson, Passaic County
- Cranford Park Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Cranford, Union County
- Forest Manor HCC in Hope, Warren County
- Lakeview Rehabilitation and Care Center in Wayne, Passaic County
- New Grove Manor in East Orange, Essex County
- Oceana Rehabilitation and NC in Cape May Court House, Cape May County
- Palace Rehabilitation and Care Center in Maple Shade, Burlington County
- Riverview Estates in Riverton, Burlington County
- Silver Healthcare Center in Cherry Hill, Camden County
- South Jersey Extended Care in Bridgeton, Cumberland County
- Sterling Manor in Maple Shade, Burlington County
- Wardell Gardens at Tinton Falls in Monmouth County
- Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center in Andover, Sussex County
Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, the state’s long-term care ombudsman, said the state has adopted some leading-edge reforms in recent years, including minimum staffing ratios and financial disclosures.
The report, though, says that under a Quality Incentive Payment Program introduced by the state’s Medicaid program in fiscal 2020, one-star nursing homes are receiving nearly the same amount of bonus payments, which are given for meeting or exceeding certain quality metrics, as highly rated ones.
Looking ahead, Brewer said there are ways the Medicaid program can amend its state plan or get waivers from the federal government to try to enact the report’s suggestions.
“The idea is not that we need to shut down all 15 of these nursing homes,” Brewer said. “What we need is for them to get better.”
“There are places that are large institutions that are warehousing people and that seem to have no incentive to get better,” she said.
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.