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Rumors of nursing home neglect taint governor's race

In the race for governor of Illinois, one GOP candidate has come under the public microscope following allegations that his business investments were linked to mismanagement and patient neglect in the state's nursing home facilities. Bruce Rauner, a well-off, Winnetka businessman has come under the gun, following claims the private equity firm he founded was involved in numerous lawsuits concerning shady dealings in nursing homes.

Some experts say the core of the issue goes far deeper than the charges may imply. According to court records, awards resulting from lawsuits of wrongful death or patient abuse have totaled over $2 billion at one point. Allegations abound that investors neglected to provide funding for quality care at the facilities. Other rumors say there have been attempts to bury evidence of company assets to avoid paying hefty damages.

While rulings resulted in doling out awards in the millions, Rauner's investment firm quietly morphed into vague non-existence. An embroiled mess of bankruptcy and countless legal disputes ensued. While his name has not come up in court documents, his business affiliates appear on the list of defendants. Deals his equity firm made and the purchase of a major health care conglomerate have brought his gubernatorial intentions into question. In the meantime, people were dying at nursing homes.

Mr. Rauner's health care company and several acquisitions made his company a formidable presence in U.S. health care several years ago. At one time the company was netting almost $10 million. Allegations of poor nursing care management caused this gain to plummet to a whopping loss of almost 27 million. Poor investments and compromised loans in a sluggish economy led to more lawsuits, forced sales and involuntary bankruptcy.

Efforts to avoid paying out damages, coupled with rumors of a conspiracy to split up acquisitions and its affiliates surfaced. This led to allegations that the ailing health care company had attempted to faction itself into anonymous fragments so they would not be snagged by creditors and constant lawsuits.

Nursing homes are the last bastion of care for our senior loved ones. Tragic cases of nursing home abuse, neglect, care and death cause indefinable sadness to families and relatives of those individuals who have lost their dignity in the final years of their lives. Using these facilities as a vehicle to further one's own political agendas should not happen. It is an image bound to stay in the mind of the Illinois voter.

Source: chicagotribune.com, "Nursing home problems may dog Rauner" Rick Pearson, Jan. 25, 2014

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