Medicare, the federal insurance program that provides payments to many skilled nursing homes, is now penalizing skilled care facilities when too many patients end up admitted to hospitals over and over again due to avoidable issues. Many people — of all ages — end up in skilled nursing care for a time after surgeries, accidents and illnesses.
However, Medicare typically only fully covers 20 days of a patient’s stay, after which other insurance programs like Medicaid gradually take over. Since the profit a facility makes on a patient decreases the longer the patient is there, facilities can be in a hurry to discharge patients in order to maximize the profit made on each bed.
Patients sent home before they are ready often end up right back in the hospital again. In 2016, 11 percent of skilled nursing patients ended up back in a hospital due to avoidable problems within 30 days of their discharge from a facility. That’s a huge signal that something is wrong with the way skilled nursing homes operate.