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There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the danger coronavirus poses to adults living in nursing homes, but what happens when a nursing home wants to force someone out during this crisis?
Pandemic or no pandemic, nursing home residents always have the right to challenge an eviction (a.k.a. an “involuntary discharge”). Before discharging a resident for any reason, nursing homes usually have to give the resident written notice, and residents have a right to appeal the eviction in front of a state hearing officer.
Nursing home residents have even more protections during this public health crisis. You might be wondering:
Can my nursing home evict me if I can’t pay them right now?
No, nursing homes cannot evict residents for non-payment as long as Kentucky’s state of emergency continues.
If a nursing home is trying to evict you or a loved one because of problems with Medicare or Medicaid or because you just couldn’t pay your bill, show them this guidance from Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), the state agency that regulates nursing homes.
Remember that the ban on nursing home evictions doesn’t mean that a nursing home has to admit you if you can’t pay. The protection only extends to people who have already been admitted to the nursing home.
If you can’t afford to pay the nursing home, you should apply for Medicaid.
Nursing homes can also still evict residents for behavioral or other issues, but keep in mind that they usually still have to give you notice, and you still get a hearing. You might have defenses to the eviction, and you should contact legal aid for advice.
What if I left the nursing home to go to the hospital? Does the nursing home have to let me back in?
Before coronavirus, Medicaid would pay your nursing home to hold your bed while you were in the hospital for up to 14 days. CHFS recently got permission to extend that time to 30 days. In other words, if Medicaid pays your nursing home bill, you should be able to return to your nursing home after a hospital stay as long as you’re gone less than 30 days.
If I’ve been hospitalized, can my nursing home require me to have a COVID-19 test before they re-admit me?
If you have no COVID-19 symptoms and were hospitalized for something else, your nursing home shouldn’t require the hospital to give you a COVID-19 test before readmitting you. (The nursing home still might want you to get a COVID-19 test, and if one’s available, that’s probably a good idea.)
If you were in the hospital for COVID-19, your nursing home should readmit you after one negative COVID-19 test. Your nursing home can readmit you without a negative test if they have a designated COVID-19 unit where they can adequately care for your needs. If the nursing facility can’t care for your needs, you should be allowed to stay in the hospital or be transferred to a different facility that can take care of you.
If you want to know more about what CHFS has told nursing homes about COVID-19, readmission, and transfers, click here.
If you have further questions, the ombudsman for your area is a great resource. Find yours here.