Senator says nursing home industry collapsing

THE SENATE’S LEAD PERSON on health care issues says the skilled nursing home industry in Massachusetts is struggling to stay afloat amid a virus that has claimed 3,534 lives at the facilities.

“What we are seeing is an industry that was on or near the verge of collapse and it is collapsing,” said Sen. Cindy Friedman of Arlington. Friedman was speaking on the Health or Consequences Codcast with John McDonough of the TH Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University and Paul Hattis of the Tufts University Medical School.

Friedman, the Senate chair of the Health Care Financing Committee, said the Baker administration was right to pump $130 million of Medicaid funding into the industry and launch audits of each nursing home to check compliance with a 28-point checklist for infection control.

“You can argue that it didn’t happen fast enough or it isn’t enough, but what they’re doing right now is what needs to happen. It is a huge issue and it is extremely complicated. What we’re seeing is years of, you know, big companies coming in and buying nursing homes,” she said. “Nursing homes used to be all mom and pop local. Now they’re run by people in places like New Jersey and Texas. They don’t know from Massachusetts.”