Less than a year before California Attorney General Kamala Harris labeled him a “serial violator” of nursing home laws, Shlomo Rechnitz made a purchase that further called into question his commitment to provide proper skilled nursing care.
Rechnitz, whose firm Brius Healthcare is California’s largest nursing home operator, spent approximately $3.6 million on a luxury jet in 2013, which he operates through a subsidiary that receives direct payments from his nursing homes. Over the following three years, that plane circled the globe more than 20 times, while Rechnitz racked up nearly 400 patient care violations and threatened to evict nearly 200 elderly patients claiming his homes were losing money.
Revelations about Rechnitz’s Gulfstream G-IV – including its flights to international destinations like Brazil, Portugal, and Israel – are contained in a report issued this week by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW). The details come from previously unpublished records obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration and other government agencies.
Altogether, Rechnitz has spent an estimated $8 million to purchase and operate the jet.
Rechnitz’s spending habits should concern all Californians because he controls one out of every 14 nursing home beds in the state. And there is ample evidence that he is not spending enough to properly care for residents.
A Sacramento Bee investigation found that in 2014 Rechnitz’s homes were “tagged with nearly triple as many serious deficiencies per 1,000 beds as the statewide average.” One of his Los Angeles homes has been cited in connection with three separate resident deaths since 2009.
In July 2016, the California Department of Public Health blocked Brius from obtaining licenses to operate five nursing homes due to the company’s widespread violations of California’s patient-care laws. Harris labeled Rechnitz “a serial violator” in an emergency motion seeking to block it from buying 19 nursing homes three years ago. And the federal government barred three Brius nursing homes from treating Medicare patients due to severe violations of federal standards.
The report on Rechnitz’ private jet comes on the heels of recent articles raising questions as to whether he is siphoning money out of his nursing homes. The North Coast Journal reported that Rechnitz’ nursing homes in Humboldt County appear to pay inflated rent to companies that he controls and that over the course of two years they paid $117,000 more to Rechnitz’s medical supply firm for “routine supplies” even though their admissions dropped 30 percent.
NUHW’s report – entitled “Misplaced Priorities at 40,000 Feet” – includes recommendations for policymakers and the public, as well as links to more than 100 pages of source documents obtained from government agencies.