An NBC News investigation discovered that "permanent patients" cases are not unusual, but the result of current healthcare policies and guidelines. That's because under federal law, hospitals must treat any patient who needs emergency medical attention even if they have no way to pay. Nursing and rehab facilities are not required by law to do so. At the same time, hospitals cannot discharge a patient without a plan in place for his or her ongoing care. The result is patients stuck in the hospital in need of long-term care but with nowhere to go, large medical bills, and no way to pay—a cost that is usually covered at the hospital's expense.