Patients with serious mental illness placed in nursing homes along side the elderly

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According to stats from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services young and middle-aged patients with serious mental illness are being housed along side the elderly increasingly in nursing homes across the United States. From 2002 to 2008 there was a 41% increase in the number of patients with mental illness placed in nursing homes (according to data obtained from the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act). This increase may be due to the closing of several state funded psychiatric institutions and the increasing number of vacancies in nursing homes. This trend is likely to continue if economic conditions do not shift as Medicaid will continue to pay nursing homes to house patients with mental illness as long as the census in a given facility reflects less than 50% of patients that possess a mental illness. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses how this trend is in many ways problematic:

About 125,000 mentally ill people are now living in long-term care facilities, 9% of the total nursing home population, according to the CMS data.

The closure of state-operated mental institutions in most states and rising vacancy rates in nursing homes have combined to make these facilities attractive as housing for the mentally ill.

As long as the mentally ill population in a given facility remains under 50%, Medicaid will pay to house individuals with chronic psychiatric disorders there regardless of age.

The AP report cited a series of crimes — including murder, rape, and arson — committed by younger mentally ill individuals with histories of violent behavior against elderly residents.

Click here to read the rest of this article from Medpage Today

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