George Hager headshot
George Hager

The nation’s largest nursing home operator is on the defense after a federal lawmaker accused it of using coronavirus federal relief funds to “line the pockets of company executives.” 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, questioned Genesis HealthCare’s use of federal relief funding in a letter sent to the company late last week. The letter comes in the wake of a Washington Post article reporting that former Genesis CEO George Hager, who retired from the post in early January, receiving a $5.2 million retention payment from the company two months before leaving.

“I would like an explanation for this unfathomable greed amidst a public health tragedy and economic crisis, and to know why Genesis, which claimed to be on the brink of bankruptcy and accepted $300 million in state and federal aid under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), gave its top executive — who was unable to keep nursing home residents safe — a multimillion dollar bonus, in addition to a $650,000 retirement bonus and $300,000 consulting contract,” Warren wrote.

“CARES Act funding should not be used to line the pockets of company executives who fail to address the public health threats from the pandemic, and your company should not be seeking additional public funds while giving departing executives multimillion dollar bonuses,” she later added. 

Genesis said that although Warren’s letter, in part, relies on “inaccurate information,” it is reviewing the inquiry seriously.

“We have received Sen. Warren’s letter inquiring about the compensation decisions made by our Board of Directors concerning our former CEO and senior executives,” Genesis spokeswoman Lori Mayer said in a statement to McKnights Long-Term Care News

“While the letter relies, in part, on inaccurate information published in the media, we are evaluating the inquiry seriously and look forward to the opportunity to provide more information and context in our response,” Mayer added. “Genesis has been on the frontlines during this pandemic with our leadership and employees working around the clock to keep our patients, residents and staff members as safe as possible.” 

Warren requested information from the company include providing: complete lists of all pandemic-related assistance and state and federal funding it’s received since Jan. 1, 2020; information on compensation received or due to Hager since Jan. 1, 2020; and a detailed timeline of the board’s decision to approve the retention bonus. 

Warren gave Genesis a Feb. 10 deadline to deliver the information.

This article appeared in the McKnight’s Business Daily, a joint effort of McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. It originally appeared on the website of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.