The Federal Trade Commission has an important warning for long-term care residents and their families across the country as the latest round of federal stimulus checks is delivered: Beware of “grabby” facility administrators.
Administrators of some nursing homes and assisted-living facilities took residents’ checks when the first stimulus payments were distributed last May, instead of passing them along to their rightful owners, wrote Lois C. Greisman, elder justice coordinator for the agency, in a blog post. Some of the main targets were residents on Medicaid.
“Which wasn’t, shall we say, legal, and kept some attorneys general busy recovering those funds for people,” she wrote. “If you hear about a nursing home or assisted-living facility being grabby about Economic Impact Payments, tell your state attorney general right away.”
Residents are entitled to their Economic Impact Payments, Greisman wrote. On Dec. 27, former President Donald Trump signed a coronavirus relief and government funding package into law, which provided payments of $600 per person, or $1,200 per couple, plus money for dependents. The money has been distributed over the past few weeks.
In the first round of stimulus payments, some homes were “claiming that, because the person is on Medicaid, the facility gets to keep the stimulus payment,” Greisman wrote in May 2020.
“And, like last time, the money is meant for the PERSON, not the place they might live,” she wrote. “The facility may not put their hands on it, or require somebody to sign it over to them. Even if that somebody is on Medicaid.”
The Florida Attorney General’s Office issued a similar consumer alert in May 2020, after the first round of stimulus payments, warning Florida long-term care residents and their families of this potential scam.
“Reports of these facilities seizing residents’ stimulus payments are beginning to surface nationwide,” the alert said.
“This is disgraceful and completely unacceptable,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said in the alert. “As we have seen throughout this crisis, residents in these facilities are at a higher risk of suffering and dying from COVID-19 — they should not have to carry the additional burden of worrying about their stimulus money being taken by those entrusted with their care.”
Moody’s office recommended that family members check on care facility residents and ask if their stimulus checks have been received. If not, they should ask facility managers if they are holding the checks.
If residents or family member suspect a home is keeping a resident’s stimulus check, they can file a complaint with the state attorney general online at MyFloridaLegal.com or by calling 866-9NO-SCAM. They also can inform the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or by calling 877-FTC-HELP.