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In an alarming new study highlighted by the National Institutes of Health, nursing homes with a higher proportion of black residents were found to deliver lower quality care than those homes with fewer minority residents. The study found that not only was the level of care impacted in these nursing facilities, but these homes also performed worse financially, with lower profit margins and revenues.

The study, which examined data from 11,000 nursing homes across the country, found that those facilities with few or no black residents performed better on a variety of metrics, including financially and in terms of patient care. The study’s authors suggest the reason for this discrepancy may be the fact that a higher proportion of black nursing home residents rely on Medicaid. This government-funded coverage has lower reimbursement rates than private pay arrangements, something that the researchers believe is directly linked to financial results and may also be tied to differences in healthcare quality.

To gather the information, researchers accessed financial reports from thousands of nursing homes, comparing financial figures with a range of other data that were designed to determine nursing home quality. These factors included the ratio of nursing staff to patients, success in preventing bedsores, success in preventing urinary tract infections and the numbers of deficiency citations issued by regulators.

The study concluded that those nursing homes with higher proportions of black residents had lower operating costs but also had lower revenues and lower profit margins. Care quality also suffered, with the number of deficiency citations higher in homes with more minorities while bedsore and urinary tract infection prevention efforts were less successful.

The study’s authors did note that within individual facilities there were no measurable differences in how black or white patients were cared for. The study suggests that the quality care problems are not because of biased attitudes of healthcare workers, but instead because of larger differences in the way the facilities are operated.

The hope is the new survey shines a light on serious deficiencies that exist in some nursing homes. Seniors depend on quality care and family members should not have to worry that something like the racial makeup of the nursing facility could negatively impact the health and safety of their loved ones.


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