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Nursing Home Eviction After You’ve Been in the Hospital

July 9, 2024

Nursing home evictions are a significant problem in the United States. Between staffing issues and the rising need for long-term care services, overburdened facilities often attempt to evict residents for the wrong reasons. Many people, especially seniors, are unaware of their rights and don’t know who to turn to for support and advice.

Elder law attorneys are knowledgeable about federal laws and strategies and can help provide you with the right guidance.

6 Reasons Federal Law Allows for Nursing Home Eviction
Nursing facilities attempting to evict a resident must give written notice, in plain language, at least 30 days before the eviction date to the resident and their advocate. The notice must state one of six valid reasons for the eviction:

The resident has failed to pay.

The resident doesn’t need nursing facility care anymore.

The nursing facility cannot meet the resident’s needs.

The resident endangers the safety of others in the nursing home.

The resident endangers the health of others in the nursing home.

The nursing facility is permanently closing.
Notices must also include the date of eviction, the location to which the resident will transfer, an explanation of the resident’s appeal rights, and contact information for the long-term care ombudsman program.

When pursuing appeals, a hearing officer decides whether the nursing facility can evict the resident. Hearing procedures vary in each state and are often held in the facility.

Challenging a Nursing Home Eviction
If you receive an eviction notice, don’t panic; find a qualified elder law attorney to be your advocate. You can remain in the facility while they help you request an appeal at a transfer or discharge hearing from the appropriate state agency.

Legitimate reasons for an appeal may include:

The nursing home claims it can’t meet the resident’s needs based on their family’s complaints
The facility claims the resident refuses health care
The resident may no longer qualify for Medicaid
The nursing home says the resident broke the facility rules
The facility claims nonpayment while a Medicaid application is pending
The facility says the resident is a danger to others
Appeal Hearings and Other Actions
Transfer and/or discharge appeal hearings can take a week or two to schedule. In the meantime, your elder law attorney can communicate with the nursing home staff, administrator, or director on your behalf to request a bed hold or declare the intention to return under federal and state laws.

The nursing home may push back, so enlisting the help of a long-term care ombudsman could be another next step.

If the facility still isn’t cooperative, your attorney may pursue other options, such as:

Filing a complaint with the inspection agency

Filing a transfer or discharge appeal for an administrative hearing

Requesting immediate relief from the state court
Bed Holds and the Right to Return to a Nursing Home
Federal law on bed holds and right to return applies to all Medicaid-certified facilities. If a resident requests a bed hold before leaving for the hospital, their room or bed is held vacant for anywhere between seven to 14 days, unless the facility already has plenty of vacancies.

The right to return applies to residents returning under Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. A resident has a legal right to return to their room or bed if it is still vacant. If it’s not vacant, they may return to the next available semi-private room; the nursing home cannot simply turn them down.

Pursuing the right to return is easier because Medicaid or the resident won’t need to pay the cost of a vacant room for several days.

The law requires each facility to provide written explanations of state policy regarding the right to return, bed holds, and required payments for a hold to their residents or the resident’s advocate. This is usually presented at the same time as the admission agreement. The policy must be shared again before the resident goes to a hospital or takes a therapeutic leave (purposes other than required hospitalization).

For those eligible for Medicare or Medicaid payment of nursing facility expenses, even if hospitalization or therapeutic leave exceeds the bed hold period, there was no hold, or the resident rejected a hold, the resident has the right to return while their appeal is pending.

If you feel pressure from the hospital to leave right away and don’t know where to go, do not accept a transfer to another facility if you are not comfortable with this option.

Transfer and/or discharge appeal hearings take a week or two to schedule. If you can’t afford to wait for an administrative hearing decision, your attorney might take the issue to an inspection agency.

Understanding Recent Legislative Reforms
COVID-19 showed the country how desperately the nursing home facility environment needs reform. Legislation now requires:

Every nursing home provides sufficient staff who are adequately trained to provide high-quality care. In 2024, each nursing facility must have a minimum staff to provide each resident with .55 hours of RN care and 2.45 hours of nursing aide care every day.
Poorly performing nursing homes to be held accountable for improper and unsafe care and immediately improve their services or be cut off from funding and incur steeper penalties. A new database will track and identify owners and operators with known health and safety issues.
Better information for the public about nursing home conditions so they can find the best available options.
Work With an Elder Law Attorney
If you are a nursing home resident who needs an advocate, a qualified elder law attorney can serve you well. They can help review nursing home contracts, explain state laws and your rights, and assist with appeal hearings and other legal issues. Speak to one of our qualified elder law attorneys for guidance.