House Hearings Slated for Nursing Homes Acquisition

November 7, 2007
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LANSING—The chairwoman of the state House Health Policy Committee said Wednesday she will conduct hearings into the controversial sale of 27 Michigan HCR Manor Care long-term care facilities to a private equity firm.

State Rep. Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee, said the timing of the hearings is yet to be determined, but she has asked Michigan Department of Community Health Director Janet Olszewski to delay any licensing decisions until after the inquiry.

“When private equity companies come shopping for nursing homes, it’s our parents and grandparents and friends and loves ones who bear the brunt of that problem,” said Angerer, citing a September New York Times report that found that private-equity owned nursing homes have more inspection citations than nonprofit homes.

State Rep. Robert Jones, D-Kalamazoo, chairman of the House Senior Health, Security, and Retirement Committee, also is backing the legislative hearings.

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, announced Wednesday that the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which he chairs, and the Financial Services Committee intend to conduct Congressional hearings, but did not reveal a schedule.

State Long-Term Care Ombusdman Sarah Slocum said she backs Angerer’s inquiry.

“It’s a very intricate and high stakes financial arrangement that’s being proposed and deserves our highest level of scrutiny,” she said.

The Carlyle Group is planning to pay $6.3 billion to take the publicly-traded, Toledo-based Manor Care private. It’s the private equity firm’s first foray into skilled nursing facilities, including seven Heartland Health Care centers with 835 beds in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Kalamazoo counties. Manor Care shareholders approved the buy-out last month.

Manor Care is the largest long-term care chain in the country, with more than 500 nursing and rehabilitation centers, assisted living, hospice and home health care facilities.

Slocum and Angerer said that some Manor Care facilities in Michigan have had a high rate of health violations.

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