Retirement homes are in trouble? Guess he didn’t get the memo.

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John O’Connor

By any reasonable standard, these are difficult times for many care home operators. And the industry has worked hard to get that message heard.

The American Health Care Association has released a bombshell report suggesting that up to half of the nation’s facilities could be on the verge of ruin.

More recently, LeadingAge called on the Biden administration to enact a six-step relief package. Among his biggest demands: a $5-per-hour wage increase and a $2,000 payment to skilled direct care workers.

As efforts for the industry continue, tax relief is coming in a trickle. At least, in a trickle by Washington’s usual standards. Last week, for example, an additional $2 billion in vendor relief funds became available.

Lawmakers seem to be sensitive to the predicament of the industry. This also applies to the general public. But an untimely sensational purchase threatens to put empathy on hold.

For this we can thank Mohammad Qazi. What did he do wrong, you ask? Nothing illegal or immoral, but he hardly supports the idea that this sector really needs financial help.

The 59-year-old businessman owns a chain of facilities based in Michigan, as well as a few other buildings in Connecticut. By all indications, he is not one of many struggling operators in the industry.

In fact, he just shelled out $26 million to buy a posh 14,000 square foot retreat in the Lower Hollywood Hills. As you’d expect, it’s not exactly a starter house. That is, unless your idea for a starter home includes a cryotherapy chamber, a hot yoga studio, a movie theater, and two swimming pools.

To be clear, Qazi is not the first or the only person to financially kill the nursing home industry. Truth be told, there are more than a few owners and ticket holders who live high on this particular pig. But his contemporaries tended to avoid purchases that would embarrass the monarchs of the Arabian Peninsula. Or at least to ensure that these acquisitions are not trumpeted to the masses.

Whichever way you look at it, the optics here aren’t good. In fact, that’s exactly the kind of thing that could give taxpayers and lawmakers the wrong idea.

John O’Connor is McKnight’s Editorial Director.

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