Friday, January 18, 2008


Attention Baby Boomers, your attention please. Big moneyed interests are looking at your aging with glee. They plan to make a buttload of money off you and provide you with less then adequate nursing home care elder care, and assisted living at the same time.

Hell, they're at it right now with your folks and your siblings.

Just prior to Christmas, it was revealed that serious reprimands for dangerous conditions at nursing homes had increased 22 per cent over a six-year period ending in 2006. These citations can run the gamut from not providing patients their necessary meds, to cases of physical and sexual abuse of residents.

Still there are a lot of boomers reaching that age none of us planned on and the millionaires are ready.

The good news: at least, some folks have an eye out on the situation already.

Carlyle Group co founder David Rubenstein had his speech disrupted by protesters today at the Wharton Private Equity Forum in Center City Philadelphia today.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Rubinstein's talk to more than 300 investors and students was delayed half an hour when two dozen activists from the Service Employees' International Union (SEIU) heckled the head of the $70 billion-asset investment firm, jostling Park Hyatt Hotel security, shouted and chanted from the balconies at the Park Hyatt in Philadelphia the minute he started speaking, and managed to unfurl banners despite the efforts of security to stop them.

The protest was sparked by Carlyle's take over of the nursing home company Manor Care. reports a delegation charged the stage with a megaphone and accused Rubenstein and Carlyle -- which recently acquired Manor Care-- of disregarding patient care and plotting layoffs.

"We take care of your parents and you don't care!" a protester shouted from the balcony.

Manor Care is a Toledo-based chain of 500 nursing homes, which Carlyle bought last month for $6.3 billion. It's one of the most recent of dozens of public companies that have been taken over by private equity firms like Carlyle, which invest money from pension funds, universities and other wealthy investors, and which don't have to report detailed financial results as public companies do.

The union charges that Carlyle is trying to make money through other people's suffering -- and indeed make some people's suffering worse in the pursuit of profits. The union's website dedicated to Carlyle and other private equity big shots states that it is "concerned that Carlyle's business practices may put everyday Americans at risk by endangering public services, imperiling the environment, jeopardizing the health of vulnerable senior citizens, and supporting human rights abuses abroad."

Manor Care workers worry Carlyle will cut spending at the residences in order to make the deal pay, said protester Tricia Miechur, who said she worked at a Manor facility in the Lehigh Valley. Speaking after the group left the hotel, she said coworkers have asked the SEIU to help form a union because they're worried Carlyle can't afford to improve both profits and patient care.

By the way, Rubinstein was a member of the Carter administration, and Carlyle formerly counted ex-President George H.W. Bush, former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci and other Washington insiders among its top officers, and military contractors among its clients according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Now back to the generic problem...or geriatric prolem...anyway our problem.

Private investment groups have been targeting some of the biggest nursing home concerns, in turn affecting the care of millions of patients. In addition to Carlyle’s purchases of HCR Manor Car, Genesis Healthcare Corp. agreed to be bought by private equity in January, and Beverly Enterprises went private in 2005 reports

These guys aren't buying up nursing homes and the like for fun. Such purchases are made for the quick buck, where a new owner will gloss over problems and cut costs in order to improve profitability, then sell for a tidy sum. How do you cut costs? You and I know the answer to that one, don't we?

And yet no one is asking us what we think of all this.


According to a New York Times investigation, as outlined in, facilities owned by private investment firms scored worse than national rates in 12 of the 14 indicators regulators use to track ailments prevalent in nursing homes. Both federal and state regulators told the New York Times that citations for quality-of-care deficiencies, like moldy food and restraining residents for long periods of time, rose at every large nursing home chain that was acquired by a private investment group

What's more, according to data attributed to the US Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS, the authority which regulates nursing homes in the United States), residents of nursing homes held by private equity suffer more from depression, loss of mobility and the loss of ability to bathe, and dress themselves.
Federal and state regulators have said that citations for things such as restraining residents for long periods, and the serving of moldy food have increased at every nursing home owned, and controlled by a private equity firm.

Gee whiz, makes you just long for those golden years, doesn't it?

But then America has always had such a glowing record when it comes to taking care of citizens who have worked hard for decades and can finally work no more.

Capitalism finds a way to make money off you one way or another.

Isn't that so cool?

The following somewhat confusingly written article is from DealBreaker.

The Fracas At Wharton

So how violent was the protest at Wharton's Private Equity and Venture Capital conference

Accounts of the disruption vary, with some claiming that punches were thrown and others saying that it was just scuffling or jostling.

As we first reported this morning, shortly after David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group had begun his keynote address, protesters from the Service Employees International Union swarmed the room, unfurling banners and shouting slogans, sometimes through a megaphone.

Eyewitness accounts report that around forty protesters were in the room (the Philadelphia Inquirer says only two-dozen), although protestors had been handing out fliers outside the event earlier. Rubenstein was described as “speechless” in the moments after the protests began.

“They looked like they are going to kill the guy [Rubenstein],” a witness said over email as it unfolded. “They are on both balconies and have control of the floor. No sign of security. The speaker is in shock. One thing we now know about the venture crowd; don't count on them in a fire fight. You'd be better off with Donald Duck as a wingman.”

After a short time, a dialogue of sorts—as much as any back-and-forth that involves bullhorns can be described as a “dialogue”—began between the protesters, the audience and Rubenstein, lasting for between ten and fifteen minutes.

"Rubenstein remained on stage and agreed to address questions from a woman with a mega-phone, who said she was a Manor Care employee, and lit into him," George White of the Deal reports.

“A spokesperson of sorts began a rather predictable dialogue with Rubenstein about Carlyle's two-week-old purchase of Manor Care,” one witness said.

"I think a remedial English course would be helpful," Rubenstein said to the female protester.

Some in the audience offered less jocular responses, verbally abusing the protesters.

“One person in the front row called one of our spokespeople a ‘fat cow,’” Jule Eisenhardt of SEIU told DealBreaker.

The situation grew tense as the confrontation continued. Unlike many events in the past that have been subject to similar protests recently undertaken by the SEIU, this one seemed capable of turning violent. Many students in the crowd seemed agitated that the conference was being disrupted.

“The crowd had a large number of students, who are less inhibited than the typical attendees at these conferences,” Eisenhardt said. “They are not that deep in the industry. Usually people just stand back and wait for security.”

Witnesses at the conference reported that the situation turned “violent” and described the situation as “out of control.” There were reports that punches were thrown but Eisenhardt denies these. Witnesses who spoke to DealBreaker did not see any punches. One witness said that after the event he was told by others that there were “fisticuffs” between protesters unfurling a banner from one of the balconies and a group that attempted to stop them.

“There was lots of shouting and jostling but nothing violent,” Eisenhardt says.

Police were summoned to the hotel but did not enter the room, according to Eisenhardt. She tells DealBreaker that no-one was arrested and the protesters left on their own accord as the hotel security presence increased after about 30 minutes.

Private equity has been the target of many protests in the last several months. The SEIU organized a protest in the Hamptons last summer, as DealBook reminds us, “where protesters pretended to be billionaires and expressed mock opposition to raising taxes on private equity fund managers.” Weeks later, a private equity conference at the Waldorf Astoria was disrupted by protesters.

Eisenhardt said that the SEIU had not given the press any advance notice of the protest so that the group could avoid being stopped by security. She explained the purpose of the protest to Dan Primack at PE Hub: “We want to show that private equity has a responsibility to the community, just as any other investment class or industry would have. Right now, Carlyle and Rubenstein are involved in a number of different companies where there are serious questions about how they’re handling that responsibility.”

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