Grassley requests Justice Department to investigate NJ nursing home conditions

Senator also asked the Medicaid and Medicare administration agencies to explain why they continue to pay for the care of patients at the facility. 17 bodies were discovered in 2020.

Grassley requests Justice Department to investigate NJ nursing home conditions

A Republican senator demanded that the Justice Department investigate conditions at a New Jersey nursing facility , where 17 bodies were discovered in a morgue in 2020. He also requested that the agency that oversees Medicare/Medicaid funding explain why it continues to pay for the care of patients at the facility.

Woodland Behavioral Health was recently charged in February with failing to perform CPR, call 911 for nonresponsive patients, or provide lifesaving medicine to Covid-positive residents.

An ongoing NBC News investigation has been conducted into the facility and its owners.


 

Two other GOP senators, Tim Scott from South Carolina and Thom Tillis from North Carolina, signed a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Galrland. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa, called the conditions at the facility "flagrant" and "egregious", and urged Attorney General Merrick Grland to open an investigation. Scott and Grassley are both members of the Health Care subcommittee in the Finance Committee. Scott is the top ranking member of Special Committee on Aging.

Separately, Grassley addressed the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, asking for a detailed explanation from the agency about its decision regarding "whether or not Woodland's participation is terminated in Medicare or Medicaid." CMS threatened to stop federal funding for Woodland, but this month, the CMS decided to continue funding until at least August 15. Medicare and Medicaid funding covers about 70% of the care provided at long-term care facilities in the country.

Grassley also inquired if the facility would be required to provide a plan for relocating the 400+ residents if federal funding is cut.

CMS did not respond immediately to a request for comments.

The state of New Jersey had appointed an outside monitor last week to stay at Woodland for 90 day to conduct an "onsite assessment of business practices and operations"

According to a police report, the facility's problems began in 2019 when a woman suffering from dementia was found in the parking lot after wandering out through broken doors.

As NBC News reported, 83 people died from Covid during the initial days of the pandemic. The bodies were also found stacked at the facility’s morgue (which was then called Andover Subacute II). For not being in "substantial conformity" to federal regulations, the federal government fined them $221,115 and the state attorney general began an investigation.

State officials claim that 16 people at the facility died of Covid since September.

The owners released a statement in November stating that Woodland Behavioral's safety and well-being was their top priority. They also added, "The COVID-19 Pandemic presented unprecedented challenges and our heroic staff faced them as best they could." We thank them for all they did and continue to do to protect our residents.


 

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