Congressman Jimmy Gomez Leads Los Angeles Delegation in Calling for Investigation into Unsafe Discharges of COVID-19 Patients

Washington, D.C., June 29, 2020

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), a member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health and Vice Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, led members of the Los Angeles Congressional delegation in a letter urging the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to investigate inappropriate discharges of nursing home residents to homeless shelters, dilapidated motels, and other unsafe facilities, including that of a resident from the Lakeview Terrace facility in CA-34, as reported by the New York Times.

“In the midst of our country’s homelessness crisis and a global pandemic – where nursing homes account for a disproportionate share of COVID-19 deaths – the conduct like that outlined in this New York Times article is unacceptable, undignified, and demands our collective attention,” said Congressman Gomez. “CMS needs to take this report seriously and immediately investigate these alarming allegations, as well as other instances of inappropriate discharges from nursing homes. Those most vulnerable to this national health emergency — seniors and the disabled — deserve better.”

Congressman Gomez was joined by Congressmembers Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Judy Chu (CA-27), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Adam Schiff (CA-28), and Maxine Waters (CA-43).

A PDF of the letter can be found here and the text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Administrator Verma:

As members of the Los Angeles Congressional delegation, we write regarding deeply disturbing reports of nursing facilities inappropriately discharging patients – many who are disabled or older adults – to homeless shelters, run-down motels and other unsafe facilities putting their health and safety at risk.

As you are likely aware, on Sunday, June 21, the New York Times reported that a facility in Los Angeles discharged a patient to an “unregulated boardinghouse — without bothering to inform his family.” The patient reportedly ended up on the street and later in jail. According to reports, the nursing home instructed staff members to “clear out less-profitable residents to make room for a new class of customers who would generate more revenue: patients with Covid-19.” If reports are true, these actions are immoral and unscrupulous. 

Nursing homes across the country are at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Los Angeles County, for example, nursing home residents account for roughly half of all COVID-19 deaths. Broadly speaking, the Administration’s response has failed to mitigate these alarming trends.

Unfortunately, inappropriate discharges are neither unique nor new. This particular facility had a history of regulatory issues and poor star ratings; however, other reports, coupled with longstanding program incentives, mean that issue is more widespread than just this particular facility. Nonetheless, this particular report, in the midst of Los Angeles’ ongoing homelessness crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic, is particularly and uniquely damning.

With that in mind, we understand that Chairman Neal has requested that you investigate this troubling trend. We fully support that request, and further request that you undertake an investigation of this particular incident and similar reports at the facility, as well other instances of inappropriate discharge into homelessness.

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