Articles Posted in Legislation

Residents Rights Month

Residents’ Rights Advocates Invite You to “Stand For Quality” This October

Across the country, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities along with family members, ombudsmen, citizen advocates, and facility staff will honor the individual rights of long-term care residents by celebrating Residents’ Rights Month. Residents’ Rights Month is an annual event held in October by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice) to celebrate and focus on awareness of dignity, respect and the value of long-term care residents.

The theme for Residents’ Rights Month 2019 is, “Stand for Quality” – to emphasize the importance of standing for quality in all aspects of residents’ experiences – quality care, quality of life, quality services, and quality choices.  The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti invite our community to use this opportunity to push for the rights of those they care about to be known and protected while residing in an Illinois long-term care facility.

nursing home vote

Lawmakers Will Soon Vote on the FAIR Act to Stop Forced Arbitration 

Americans have the right of a jury trial unless forced to agree otherwise in the form of an arbitrary clause contractually. These agreements have found their way into all of our employment, consumer, franchise and even medical contracts. Once used as a tool for businesses to solve their disputes, forced arbitration has become a greedy and ruthless tactic, dangerous to consumers.

Just this week, the full House of Representatives is set to vote on the FAIR Act, H.R. 1423. The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), is vital to all American consumers as no one should be forced to agree pre-dispute to allow third-party arbitrators decide on a judgment rightfully meant for a public trial. The bill has 222 cosponsors including several Representatives from Illinois.

nursing home abuse and neglect

Senators Blame Government Regulating Office for Growing Number of Nursing Home Deficiencies

On Tuesday, July 23, bi-partisan members of the Senate Finance Committee, led by ranking committee member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), once again raised alarming concerns over the rising amount of physical, verbal, mental and sexual abuse incidences occurring inside U.S. nursing homes. In addition, and not for the first time this year, confusion regarding the current lack of oversight role the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is playing, and funding needs to support sufficient resident-to-staff ratios were recognized and discussed at great length.

Several lawmakers referenced a same-day released report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found:

nrusing home reform

Senate Hearing Regarding U.S. Nursing Homes Called Attention to Unfixed Issues and Reform 

An estimated 1.5 million individuals receive care from nursing homes nationwide each day, many of whom are living with serious physical and cognitive impairments, leaving them frail and remarkably vulnerable to abuse and neglect injustices. On July 23, 2019, members of the Senate Finance Committee Hearing once again heard pleas from elder community leaders about the constant struggles of Americans dependent on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

(CMS) regulated skilled nursing facilities face each day. These guests discussed the continual lack of follow thru to require facilities to improve, a disregard to follow federal regulation by U.S. nursing home administrators, and ongoing failures to meet minimum care standards.

elderly medical care

National Survey Evidence Shows Behavioral Health Services Inadequate in Most U.S. Nursing Homes

Researchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine started surveying randomly selected skilled nursing facilities in 2017, asking questions about the types of behavioral health issues residents have, available behavioral health services, quality, satisfaction, staffing, staff education, turnover and service barriers. Now complete, the results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on June 5, 2019 and show that mental health disorders can affect up to 90 percent of nursing home residents in as many as a third of the nation’s nursing homes and community-based care facilities.

In this first review of its kind, researchers measured four different outcomes:

nursing home reform

Latest Senate Hearing Shows CMS Can Do More to Protect Nursing Home Residents

On Wednesday, March 6, 2019 another government session, this time led by the US Senate Committee on Finance, was held to discuss several disturbing reports of nursing home abuse and neglect and the lack of preventative measures and faulty reporting system used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to create environments for quality resident care. The hearing was led by Chairman, Chuck Grassley (R – IA) and Ranking Member, Ron Wyden (D – OR) with special panelist testimony delivered by family members of residents fallen victim to nursing home abuse or neglect.

A Minnesota woman heartbreakingly remembered her mother, an Alzheimer’s patient who was raped by care staff. During the hearing she said, “My final memories of my mother’s life now include watching her bang uncontrollably on her private parts for days after the rape, with tears rolling down her eyes, apparently trying to tell me what had been done to her but unable to speak due to her disease.” A woman from Iowa shared her family’s concern after their mother died in a nursing home ranked with the highest possible quality of resident care scores from CMS even though the organization had been seriously fined for physical and verbal abuse. The elderly woman was allegedly left in severe pain and may have been dehydrated days before her nursing home death.

“Frail and vulnerable people are harmed when nursing homes fail to meet our standards. And I don’t think any of us wants to wait until the next natural disaster or other disaster exposes some kind of a deficiency that kills dozens of people.”

                                                 -Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO)

On Thursday, the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to address substandard care and recent findings of abuse and neglect in U.S. nursing homes.

nursing home reform delay

Impact of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Decision to Delay Enforcement of Protections For Nursing Home Residents

On May 30 several State Attorneys General, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, sent a joint complaint to Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Seema Verma, Administrator Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and expressed extreme concern over the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) actions to slow regulatory enforcements that support the safety and wellbeing for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who receive care in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. In the letter, the Attorneys General are holding CMS responsible for not pushing forward a 2016 series of skilled nursing facility reforms that were set to move out in three future stages. The current administration’s delay will bring major challenges in holding facilities accountable for providing appropriate resident care and well-being.

“We write this letter to express our concern and to alert the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) about the substantial and foreseeable detriment of CMS’ actions to delay enforcement of protections for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who receive care in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The recent CMS guidance significantly decreases the protections in SNFs by rolling back reforms to improve the safety and wellbeing of nursing home residents. If allowed to proceed, recent regulatory changes will not only threaten the mental and physical security of some of the most vulnerable residents of our states, but also potentially create additional challenges for MFCU investigation and prosecution of grievances, violations, and crimes occurring in SNFs. We therefore urge you not to lower the level of regulatory oversight.”

In the second part of our look back at the transformative and impactful 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, we explore some other major aspects of the legislation in addition to the core rights of residents and responsibilities of facilities to ensure those rights are respected. The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act was a part of the broader Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of that year. In going beyond the initial 1965 legislation that created Medicare and Medicaid, the 1987 Act laid out a series of principles that re-defined what it meant to provide care to the elderly and infirmed at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. In addition to the minimum standards of care that would give rise to later legislation at the federal and state levels, and the modern notions of a residents’ bill of rights, the Act also laid out the foundation of an enforcement network that, while still improving today, has evolved and become more robust over time relative to its nascent stages two decades ago.
Continue reading ›

Current nursing homes laws and regulations on the federal level as well as the state level owe their genesis to the immensely important foundational laws that preceded them. The current laws and regulations continue to evolve and improve over time thanks to advocacy by watchdog and public interest groups, as well as other interested parties that fight for nursing home residents every day in legislatures, court rooms, and media. One tremendous law at the root of decades of efforts was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

It was called the federal Nursing Home Reform Act, which was part of the broader Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987. The 1987 Act brought with it many vital reforms steeped in the overall principle that nursing home residents are entitled to their own bill of rights that requires them to receive a certain level of dignified and quality care such that they can enjoy a quality of life at the home. This also marked a significant moment in that the federal government took on a substantially greater role in governing nursing home care for the first time since Medicare and Medicaid were created by federal law in 1965, more than twenty years earlier.
Continue reading ›

Lawyer Monthly - Legal Awards Winner
The National Trial Lawyers
Elder Care Matters Alliance
American Association for Justice
Fellow Litigation Counsel of America
Super Lawyers