BuzzFeed Investigation Showed KKR Puts Profits Before Patients, Leading to Abuse and Neglect and Putting Patients’ Lives at Risk
washington d.c. — US Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), member of the Senate Finance and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committees; Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, sent a letter to the co-CEOs of private equity firm KKR, lambasting the company after a BuzzFeed News investigation revealed that following KKR’s acquisition of BrightSpring Health in 2019, the company provided significantly substandard care and unsafe living conditions in its intermediate care facilities (ICFs) – group homes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. KKR and BrightSpring executives are poised to cash in as patient safety and quality of care decline. Senators are demanding answers from KKR over its troubling business practices, which put patient safety at risk.
“The BuzzFeed News The investigation found that after the KKR acquisition, care at BrightSpring’s ICFs deteriorated, with regulators finding 118 cases of “dangerously low staff” in seven states, double the rate seen at facilities. not belonging to KKR. Over the same period, KKR boasted of increasing BrightSpring’s revenue from $2.5 billion in 2018 to $5.6 billion in 2022. But there’s no indication that that revenue was used. to improve the quality of care in ICFs: “conditions [at BrightSpring ICFs] became so bad that nurses and caregivers quit en masse, a state banned the company from accepting new residents, and some of the most vulnerable people it cared for suffered and died,” write the senators.
The senators denounced the long-standing problem of the role of private equity in health care – which places short-term profit maximization above considerations of quality of care and patients. While KKR’s BrightSpring-owned small-scale ICFs in California, Indiana, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and West Virginia accounted for only 16% of ICFs, they accounted for 40% of serious citations in those states. the BuzzFeed investigation revealed that nurses and other social workers had alarming turnover rates, uncompetitive salaries and inadequate training.
BrightSpring’s and KKR’s failure to protect ICF patients and efforts to maximize profits have also resulted in preventable injuries and deaths. In West Virginia, state officials accused BrightSpring of ignoring multiple warnings that led to at least one preventable death and ordered BrightSpring to stop accepting new patients, ultimately closing 20% of homes in West Virginia. organization in the state. Facility managers said they faced pressure to keep homes full, even with patients they could not care for, to maximize profits.
The senators criticized KKR for choosing to pocket their profits instead of improving conditions for patients. BrightSpring’s board of directors, controlled by KKR, has burdened the company with $1.1 billion in debt, and BrightSpring has paid more than $135 million a year in interest on its loans. Meanwhile, BrightSpring CEO Jon Rousseau doubled his salary to $1.6 million in 2020. Now KKR and BrightSpring executives who oversaw the company’s operations after the acquisition are ready for another payday. In October 2021, the company filed for IPO in a $100 million initial public offering, citing its access to a “combined $1.5 trillion market opportunity”.
“We have long been concerned about the deleterious impact of private equity on healthcare and patient care. Your company exemplifies how private equity firms exploit the healthcare industry to make profits at every step. Private equity has moved into healthcare services, from rural hospitals to nursing homes and hospices, to healthcare bill management and debt collection systems. , exacerbating existing issues such as surprise medical billing, inadequate training, and lack of oversight and due process,” say the senators.
The senators called on KKR to answer a series of questions about the impact of its acquisition of BrightSpring Health on patients by June 2, 2022.
Read the full letter here.
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