Kentucky Nursing Home Patients Are Moving to Ohio Due to a Shortage of Beds

August 8, 2013

An unfortunate trend is taking place that speaks poorly of Kentucky nursing home care: the state's nursing home population is moving out of state, to Ohio.

im-still-mobile-1114180-m.jpgKentucky nursing homes suffer a shortage of beds, forcing elderly residents to move north of the Ohio River. The result has been that Ohio taxpayers end up shouldering the cost of Kentucky residents covered by Medicaid, which pays for only 60% of their care. That means that Ohio residents might pay up to $6 million each year. Statistics show that as many as 90% of elderly Kentucky Medicaid patients left the state in 2011, a number that is likely to increase.

Beds are limited in Kentucky nursing homes due to a state mandate that nursing homes undergo a "certificate of need" process, designed to keep Medicaid costs low and ensure that supply is on par with demand. However, the actual result of this practice has been that many Kentucky nursing homes have far fewer beds than people who need them. Three counties in northern Kentucky have only 1,500 beds certified for Medicaid patients, compared to four counties around Cincinnati, which have 12,000 beds for Medicaid patients. Ohio does not require a certification process.

Although several nursing homes have opened in southern Ohio to serve Kentucky residents, the Kentucky elderly are still at a disadvantage. A greater distance from their families can mean fewer visits, which can be tough for the most vulnerable, such as patients suffering from dementia.

It also tarnishes Kentucky's nursing home reputation, which was lacking to begin with. A public interest group called Families for Better Care gave Kentucky a D grade and a rank of 40th in the nation (Ohio received a C). The group found that nearly 94% of Kentucky's nursing homes had deficiencies and that one in five were "severe," that fewer than half of the nursing homes have above average direct care staffing, and that Kentucky nursing home care ranks last in the southeast region. However, the group found that the worst state for nursing care was Indiana. They gave the state an F grade and a 49th ranking overall. The group found that 94% of Indiana nursing homes had deficiencies, with more than one quarter severe. Indiana ranks last among states in the Great Lakes region.

Nursing home deficiencies can often lead to loved ones being injured or mistreated. When this happens, their families may file a lawsuit against the nursing home company to pay for medical bills and other expenses. To succeed on a claim of negligence, the plaintiff must show that the nursing home staff had a duty to treat their patients with reasonable care, and that the staff breached that duty by failing to provide adequate food and water, or support, or whatever the deficiency. As a result of the breach, the elderly loved one was injured (such as through dehydration, or as the result of a slip and fall) and suffered damage. Lawsuits like these usually seek "damages," or a monetary award for specific costs like medical bills, and less specific costs like pain and suffering. If your loved one has been mistreated by nursing home staff, contact a Kentucky nursing home abuse attorney at Miller & Falkner today.

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