COLLEGE PARK (10/29/18) — A nursing home operator investigated by the University of Maryland Capital News Service in 2016 will pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.
“Discharging Trouble,” published in September 2016 by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism‘s nonprofit news service, told the stories of nursing home patients who were left at the doorstep of unlicensed assisted living homes when their Medicare coverage ran out and they were unable to otherwise pay for care. Two people were assaulted in those unlicensed facilities.
After the series was published, the attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit against a company that the attorney general says accounted for 67 percent of Maryland’s involuntary patient discharges between January 2015 and May 2016. The company has been banned from doing business in Maryland.
“Attorneys and advocates for the poor said these were examples of a long-standing problem happening within the nursing care system in Maryland,” a project summary says. “These issues involve a combination of poor health circumstances, payment troubles, financial incentives to discharge patients and an unregulated underworld of group homes and unlicensed assisted-living facilities.”
The sweeping investigation was conducted over the course of five months by students in then-Ph.D. student Rob Wells‘ Business of Journalism class. Alumnae Morgan Eichensehr and Zoe Sagalow were the project’s lead authors.
Eichensehr now covers technology, education and health care at the Baltimore Business Journal. Sagalow is a federal tax and data reporter at Tax Notes. Wells is assistant professor in the University of Arkansas Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism.
Several Merrill College faculty members guided elements of the five-part series and assisted with editing, including CNS Data Editor Sean Mussenden, Eleanor Merrill Distinguished Visiting Fellow Tom Bettag, Richard Eaton Chair of Broadcast Journalism Mark Feldstein and Abell Professor in Baltimore Journalism Sandy Banisky.
Stories in “Discharging Trouble”
- Regulatory Black Holes, Company Profits: Maryland Nursing Home Patients Face Great Risks
- How a Broken Federal System Threatens Elderly Patients’ Safety
- Nursing Homes’ Push to Make Money Can Clash with Patient Needs
- Why Do People End Up In Unlicensed Assisted Living Homes?
- Maryland Nursing Home Regulator Struggling To Keep Up