John Oliver kicked off tonight’s episode with a reminder that Prince Philip, the British royal who died last week, is married to his own cousin.
“It’s true. Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth are cousins who later got married – also known as a Giuliani meet-cute,” joked Oliver.
The host continued to crop-dust on Florida congressman Matt Gaetz and the federal investigation into his alleged sex trafficking. The latest development involves The Daily Beast‘s discovery of Gaetz’s Venmo transaction history detailing a $900 payment through a liaison to three women under notes like “Tuition” and “School.” Oliver offered some sage advice to the now-embarrassed politician: “Venmo is for one thing and one thing only: passing judgments on friend’s spending habits while obsessing over wild financial mysteries.”
Oliver then turned his lens onto the American refugee admission program. After eviscerating Trump over his discriminatory eligibility caps, Oliver likened Biden’s inaction to his incoherent speech and played clips of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki avoiding journalists’ questions regarding Biden’s pledge to increase the refugee admission caps.
“Rest assured we’re committed to getting you to Orlando eventually, we just can’t tell where your plane is, why it’s taking so long or what year you might arrive,” said Oliver as he mimed what Psaki would sound like as a Spirit Airlines gate agent.
Oliver goes on to explain the dire limbo many refugees exist in due to the president’s passivity. “More than 35,000 already [are] approved for resettlement here, but until Biden signs that determination, they are beholden to Trump’s low admissions ceiling and bullshit racist rules.” Per Oliver, the refugees’ resettlement approval exists for a certain amount of time. If they unfortunately expire, refugees must start the paperwork all over again. And, even with approval, refugees can’t seem to currently board planes to their approved resettlement city. After Oliver describes all of this, he explains the simple solution is the swift stroke of the president’s pen.
“It’s past time for him to look deep into his own, pick up a f*cking pen and do the right thing,” emphasized Oliver.
Needing some comedic relief after a diatribe about a serious international crisis, a montage of the greatest questions asked on Yahoo! Answers plays onscreen. The silliness of each question is shown against a background of luscious shots of nature with the tune of Cello Suite No. 1 by Bach playing.
Oliver then spends the majority of his program dissecting the lack of federal oversight on nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The highlight of this segment includes a news clip in which a wife and daughter explain how they learned to perform in-home medical care through trial and error.
“There are certain things that you can expect to learn by trial-and-error: solving a puzzle, learning to pronounce the name of Tambourine Saturday, or choosing a haircut. But providing medical care should not be one of those things,” Oliver said.
Oliver notes that people who don’t send their loved one to a facility perform services on their own, typically unpaid. Oliver offers a staggering statistic: the total amount of lost wages of family caregivers totals $67 billion annually – a workforce, that if paid, would be comparable to the GDP of Bulgaria.
The people who either can’t afford retirement homes or don’t have loved ones to take care of them usually end up in a long-term care facility. He divides his segment to focus on the two types of long-term care units – nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Oliver notes how nursing homes are plagued by a lack of staffing, training and funding. Situations can be so extreme that, in a clip, employees came out to discuss how they, the facilitators, are embarrassed by their work.
“I’m not even embarrassed by my work and just three minutes ago I joked about f*cking a plate. That wasn’t even a joke,” ridiculed Oliver.
Oliver explains the complex system in which nursing homes discriminate against patients with Medicare and those with Medicaid. Each program reimburses nursing homes differently, and over-billing happens frequently, leading to a litany of lawsuits.
When he shifts the focus to the federal oversight of these nursing homes, Oliver immediately reveals how ill-equipped the government is to regulate this industry. Though there exists a public list of facilities that regularly breaks regulations, it must be capped at 88 since there isn’t any money to include more. On top of that, the other criteria on the lists like staff number and quality measures are self-reported, exposing a massive loophole on how this industry operates.
“Garbage in and garbage out. That is pathetic. Something that is as important as our nursing homes rating system should not follow the same rule as every recipe on Velveeta’s website. There is just no way any of those are any good,” judged Oliver.
The most apparent and shocking example of the lack of federal oversight on long-term care facilities, specifically assisted living, came when Oliver showed an assisted living facility in Florida that had one of its patients unwittingly fall into an alligator pond. Their fate seems rather obvious.
“I honestly don’t know where to begin there. But I guess I’d start with, why would anyone put an assisted living facility next to a f*cking alligator pond. That seems like the sort of detail that has to be included at the end of one of Brookdale’s heartwarming ads,” said an exasperated Oliver.
He continued the narrative of horrifying assisted living facility stories with patients committing suicide, freezing to death and self-immolating.
Oliver’s call to action this week was to pass reform at the national level starting with the HCBS Access Act of 2021, which would make home and community-based care an entitlement under Medicaid.
He says this issue is of utmost importance because our collective treatment of those people unearth our largest national ghosts.
“It all starts with showing that we give a sh*t what happens to the elders and people with disabilities in this country. Right now, evidence points to the fact we absolutely don’t and all the other problems are stemming from that. The longer we continue to ignore, the worse it’s going to get. This is an industry where people are literally getting eaten alive,” ended Oliver.