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Op-Ed: Pacifica “losing money” to evict tenants for profit

By David Monkawa

(Editor Note: Sakura ICF has had a history of providing bilingual culturally sensitive services to seniors in the Japanese American community long before Pacifica purchased it.)

Pacifica claims it is evicting the seniors and closing the Sakura ICF in Los Angeles because they’re “losing money”. This is dishonest and hides the full picture.

When Keiro sold the four facilities to Pacifica in 2015 they were required to submit a “Written Notice to the CA Attorney General for the Proposed Sale of Keiro Nursing Homes, Volume 1 and 2.” These docs contained financial disclosures which showed the ICF had been “losing money” for 4 out of 5 years from 2010 (-$5,000) to 2014 (-$23,000). Pacifica had to “swallow” the “distressed” ICF and South Bay Keiro as part of a “package deal”. Pacifica execs signed off and knew before purchase that the ICF “does not generate net operating income”. These are public docs available to anyone.

Pacifica brags on their website how they specialize in purchasing “distressed assets” to flip for a profit. With the last remaining skyline view of Downtown LA, Pacifica paid $14 million for the coveted Boyle Ave property in 2015. Today, real estate brokers say it can go for $24 million, conservatively. Even if they “lost” a few hundred thousand each year on the ICF, Pacifica will still gain much more than what they “lost”.

Pacifica planned to financially “starve” the ICF and eventually close it. They had Northstar manage Sakura Gardens who cut off the transfer of private pay seniors to the ICF and began charging the residents at the Sakura Assisted Living for “extra services” rather than encouraging a transfer to the more suitable ICF.

Pacifica’s cold blooded behavior is typical in the healthcare “industry” where the “DNA” of the system results in the elimination of services for low income people of color such as bilingual bicultural care. No “bad guys” to blame, just a constellation of policies, paperwork and bureaucracy that reveals what faceless “systemic racism” looks like.

Pacifica receives about $200 in reimbursements from the Feds per resident per day for those on Medi-Cal. Medicare reimburses about $600 and for Covid -19 patients about $850. There is a financial incentive to NOT admit Medi-Cal patients into nursing homes. Once admitted facilities think of excuses to get those on Medi-Cal out because the reimbursements are so low while the cost of labor and supplies rise. Both the profit drive of Pacifica and the structural injustices of government funding must be “fixed”.

Only a humane healthcare system which prioritizes people-over-profit, like those that exist in most highly industrialized countries will “solve” the problem.

The real reason Pacifica is kicking out the seniors is not because they are “losing money”, but because they want to make a lot more and the health of the Japanese seniors is a lesser priority.  As their Attorney Sarah Short said, “My clients are interested in making profit.” Period.

(About the author: David Monkawa is a member of Save our Seniors Network which is fighting the closure of Sakura ICF)

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