AARP Foundation Sues CA Nursing Facility Chain for Alleged ‘Patient Dumping’

AARP Foundation has filed a lawsuit on behalf of 82-year old nursing facility resident Gloria Single against Pioneer House nursing facility, RHF Foundation, and their corporate affiliates, charging that they illegally dumped her into a hospital.  The suit contends that the defendants are willfully violating a State order requiring that they allow her to return home and seeks an injunction so she can return to Pioneer House to be with her 93-year old husband, who still lives there.

Ms. Single is joined as a plaintiff by the public interest organization California Long Term Care Ombudsman Association (CLTCOA).  According to the complaint, CLTCOA “has taken the extreme measure of bringing this case because nursing facilities, such as Pioneer House, routinely ignore State Readmission Orders because the State refuses to enforce them itself.”

Pioneer House sent Ms. Single to a hospital, then refused to allow her to return home after the hospital medically cleared her to leave.  In response, Ms. Single exercised her right to an administrative hearing before the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), where both sides submitted evidence and sworn testimony.  After she prevailed at that hearing and DHCS ordered the facility to readmit Ms. Single, Pioneer House and RHF Foundation continued to refuse to readmit her.

Federal and California laws provide strong protections against evictions of nursing home residents. Residents have very specific rights that are intended to prevent inappropriate, unnecessary and untimely transfers and discharges. States must provide a “fair hearing” for nursing facility residents who claim that they have been illegally evicted.  Mrs. Single’s suit alleges that because California has failed to enforce the readmission orders resulting from such hearings, facilities like Pioneer House see no downside in disobeying the orders.

“The problem is that no state agency will take responsibility for enforcing these orders,” said Kelly Bagby of AARP Foundation Litigation, who also represents Plaintiffs.  “Resident dumping is a growing trend and serious danger to seniors in California.  Until the State does something, our only recourse is going to be filing suits like this.  Three years ago, the federal government told California that it had to enforce these orders, and it has done nothing. The time has come for the State to protect its elderly citizens and stop this abusive practice.”

In 2016, AARP and AARP Foundation filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asking the federal government to compel California to enforce its own readmission orders.  As a result of that complaint, the federal government again, directed the State of California to enforce administrative law judges’ decisions for people like Mrs. Single.

But to no avail.  The AARP Foundation lawsuit followed.

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