Shlomo Rechnitz: “Misplaced Priorities at 40,000 feet”

NewsFebruary 16, 2017

The National Union of Healthcare Workers published a report Wednesday detailing how the CEO of California’s largest nursing home company, Brius Healthcare, spent an estimated $8 million on a luxury jet even as his company pays poverty-level wages to caregivers and racks up hundreds of patient-care violations.

The four-page paper, “Misplaced Priorities at 40,000 Feet,” documents Shlomo Rechnitz’s 2013 purchase of a Gulfstream G-IV jet for approximately $3.6 million. During the next three years, the plane flew 509,904 miles — enough to circle the globe at least 20 times. The jet’s destinations included Cuba, Colombia, Brazil, Las Vegas and dozens of other US and international destinations.

The report is based on a trove of previously unpublished records obtained by NUHW from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other government agencies.

The report also calls into question whether Rechnitz is using funds from his approximately 81 California nursing homes to pay for the jet. According to records uncovered by NUHW, Rechnitz operates the jet through a subsidiary that in 2015 received more than $1.3 million in interest payments from Brius nursing homes.

Brius arguably has one of the worst patient-care records of any major nursing home company in California. In 2014, then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris labeled Rechnitz “a serial violator” in the nursing home industry in a motion seeking to block his acquisition of 19 nursing homes. In 2014 and 2015, the federal government barred three Brius nursing homes from treating Medicare patients due to severe violations of federal standards. Last year, the California Department of Public Health blocked Rechnitz from operating five other nursing homes due to its widespread violation of California laws.  And the FBI has raided two nursing homes as part of ongoing criminal investigations, according to news reports.

“Shlomo Rechnitz should not be flying around the world in a luxury jet, while running his nursing homes on a shoestring budget that puts residents in jeopardy and forces workers and their families into poverty,” NUHW President Sal Rosselli said. “Authorities need to investigate how a nursing home operator, whose profits mostly come from government programs intended to help seniors and poor people, can afford to fly around the world in a luxury jet.”

The report includes recommendations for policymakers to better enforce penalties against nursing home operators and tighten disclosure rules so the public is made aware of a nursing home’s corporate affiliation. And it calls on state officials to investigate the Rechnitz’s luxury jet.

The report, along with links to more than 100 pages of source documents, can be found here.