October 29, 2020; Philadelphia Inquirer

After receiving no bids from nonprofit groups, a highly rated Philadelphia-based nursing home has agreed to be bought by a relatively new, out-of-state for-profit entity. This relatively familiar scene comes at a time where the differences in quality of care have become increasingly obvious. A recent NPR report highlighted the problem as it has been surfaced during the pandemic: “Studies looking at thousands of nursing homes across the country have connected for-profit ownership and low nurse staffing to increased coronavirus infections.”

Rachel M. Werner, executive director of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, says, “It’s true not just in nursing homes, but across the health-care sector, that not-for-profit providers, hospitals, nursing homes, etc., generally have higher quality of care than for-profits.”

This often results from for-profit homes contracting with related parties for services like facility leases and vendor contracts, though they will simultaneously complain about the finances not being workable because of government reimbursement rates.

The Abramson Center for Jewish Life will now be owned by Imperial Healthcare Group. Chaim “Charlie” Steg, Imperial’s CEO, appears only to have been in the field since 2018 but is now part-owner of 11 Pennsylvania nursing homes, five of which have 1-star ratings in the federal government’s Nursing Home Compare rankings. While those ratings may reflect the quality of care under previous owners, the risk to occupants remains.

Abramson is not alone, however. Despite all indications that nonprofit nursing homes are less expensive and provide better quality of care, 70 percent of the nation’s nursing homes are for-profit.—Ruth McCambridge

Correction: The article above has been changed from its initial form. The nonprofit nursing home being acquired is the Abramson Center for Jewish Life. Abramson Senior Care is the parent entity, and remains, as a spokesperson described, “a fully vibrant nonprofit senior care provider, serving nearly 5,000 seniors throughout the Philadelphia region through the following programs: transitional care, home care, hospice, care advisors, medical adult day, outpatient memory care, primary care and palliative care.”