And we wonder why U.S. citizens and voters are attracted to socialist candidates these days. The excellent investigative reporting in “Bedsores and bankruptcy” [front page, Nov. 26] showed a profitable nursing home company, HCR ManorCare, gutted by the Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm, with huge financial and human costs. Yes, reducing the Medicare payments to nursing homes was harmful and wrongheaded and probably contributed in a minor way. But shame on Carlyle and its managing director, Karen H. Bechtel. This is Toys R Us redux: another profitable company felled through a leveraged buyout that liquidated the company’s assets to pay the investor group’s debts. Our capitalist system is being exploited by private-equity firms, corporate and investor greed, and a lack of Wall Street oversight.
Kathleen O'Leary, Arlington
No one — at any stage of life — should endure mistreatment or neglect while in a provider’s care. Poor care must never be tolerated, in any setting.
This isn’t about needing more regulation. Current laws and regulations provide mechanisms to correct quality-of-care issues, including nursing home closures.
And it isn’t about uncompassionate staff, either. We hear stories regularly from our nonprofit members about devoted workers who want to do the right thing.
Here’s what it is about: We all are aging. Caregivers are in short supply. Nursing homes are necessary providers of much-needed help. What would we do without them?
We can agree that prioritizing older adults’ well-being is a moral imperative. So we must take a comprehensive look at nursing-home care, both its financing and its oversight. Nursing homes must be accountable for quality, but state and local governments must be accountable for the financing that pays for care. Only this holistic approach will get us to the kind of nursing-home care that we all want for our family members and for ourselves as we age.
Katie Smith Sloan, Washington
The writer is president and chief executive of LeadingAge, an association of nonprofit providers of aging services, including skilled nursing.