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It is well known that most nursing home residents are participants in the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Medicare is the health insurance program for seniors while Medicaid provides support for those with low-incomes. Medicare generally only pays for short, rehabilitative nursing home stays. Residents who need to move into a nursing home for a longer period of time usually need Medicaid support to pay for that care.

All of this means that the constant policymaking confusion and budget concerns about these programs understandably worry local seniors. So many actual lives hang in the balance with support for these programs, and so everything possible needs to be done to preserve the stability of the institutions. Undoubtedly this might involve large-scale restructuring of tax rates, reimbursement details, and similar matters. However, another facet is simply working to cut down on wasteful medical spending and fraud.

Fighting Medicare Fraud

Much of the nation went to the polls on Tuesday to cast a vote in the myriad of elections scattered across the country. Of course, the most high-profile contest was the Presidential election; it was hard to watch television, walk down the street, or check you social media status without being reminded of the election in the last few months. All of that ended this week with U.S. President Barack Obama reelected for a second term, to serve for the next four years until 2016.

Some might hope that with the election over, the political talk will end. However, in reality, the election is just the beginning, and the administration (along with the public) will hopefully be engaging in long discussions in the coming months and years about the best way to help solve the various problems and challenges that lay before us. Some of those issues relate directly to the health, well-being, and care of Americans seniors.

Many might naturally be wondering what the President’s re-election means for those who need long-term care, like nursing home residents. Helpful, the Consumer Voice–one of the nation’s leading advocacy groups for seniors–sent an email to supporters after the election discussing a few of the major impacts of the President’s re-election. Of course, the candidates had different ideas for how they would handle certain issue which impact seniors and their families. And while we do not know for sure how these things will shake up in the coming months once dragged through the political process, we can make some assumptions based on what the President has done in the place and said he plans to do in the future.

Another nursing home related lawsuit was filed against the state of Illinois, alleging unfair treatment of residents with disabilities. We can likely expect more of these types of suits as very tough budget decisions are made at the state and federal level. With public budgets deeply in the red very difficult decisions will need to be made–much may hinge on who wins local, state, and federal elections this cycle. Those policymakers will decide how to deal with the financial trouble. Considering that public support for the sick and those with disabilities is such a large share of the budget, certain changes to that support is likely.

But it is one thing to say that financial change might be necessary, and it is another to say that all cuts or rules are fair, logical, or even legal.

Nursing Support Over 21

The American Association of Justice issued a new report today regarding an unfortunate example of hypocrisy when it comes to major interest groups interfering in the justice system.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent millions of dollars and focused immense resources on lobbying campaigns aimed at limiting regular consumers’ access to the courthouse. The group has its own affiliate, the Institute for Legal Reform, which works every day to add barriers and restrictions to the right of individuals harmed by corporations to file lawsuits against those corporations.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti continually work for the opposite cause: to allow all victims the same balanced access to the nation’s justice system. We do not believe that there is anything wrong with allowing our truth-finding judicial process to play out. There is nothing to fear from allowing potential victims, no matter where they come from or how much money they have, to enjoy their day in court. In that way, the system truly creates a level playing field where single individuals can stand up to anyone and seek justice. It is that same process that allows a vulnerable nursing home senior who is abused by his caregivers to stand tall and seek redress against the abusive nursing home company that caused his suffering.

The American Association for Justice released a comprehensive new report entitled, “Standing Up For Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans.” We continue our look at the forms of senior abuse discussed in the report by considering the ways in which insurance predators scam vulnerable seniors.

Many elderly community members are faced with a complicated array of offers, demands, and questions that involve their financial affairs. In too many cases, insurance companies are behind the attacks, attempting to use the senior’s unfamiliarity to swindle them out of their savings.

For example, over the 1980s and 1990s agents from the Inter-state Service Insurance agency signed up many seniors for insurance policies at rates that they thought would stay the same price. However, using deceptive maneuvers, the company continually increased the rates. Some victims ultimately found that their rates had increased by a staggering 800% in a few years. Regulators could not help the victims, because the policies were technically legal. As a result, many seniors were forced to simply drop from the insurance roles-essentially allowing the company to keep thousands and thousands of dollars from the victims without ever having to pay even a dime for their policy.

Today we continue our examination of the American Association for Justice‘s comprehensive new report entitled, “Standing Up For Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans.” We will consider the general neglect that many seniors endure at nursing home and similar locations.

Very frequently on this blog, we discuss the tragic cases of elder neglect that claim the lives of our vulnerable seniors. Unfortunately, we never go a day without hearing news of another resident who has died or been severely harm because they were denied even the most basic level of care and comfort while stuck at one of these facilities.

A hidden truth is that when seniors dies of neglect at problematic nursing homes a different label is always used—malnutrition, dehydration, bed sores, infections, and others. Far too often these health problems are simply the natural outcome of a lack of basic medical care that all seniors deserve. If cleanliness, nutrition, exercise, and other staples of proper nursing home treatment are observed on a daily basis than these types of deaths rarely, if ever, occur.

The American Association for Justice released a comprehensive new report entitled, “Standing Up For Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans.” In this post we will consider the devastating effect of many unfair insurance denials.

The report shares the tragic story of a victim of this form of abuse named Rudy. After decades on a farm, raising his children and sharing his life with his wife, Rudy was eventually persuaded to move into a nursing home. His wife had passed away and he risked too much by living alone on his farm.

Luckily, Rudy was prepared for this possibility. Years before he had bought long-term care insurance. He had paid his premiums dutifully and the insurance company at first honored his far-sighted planning and paid the costs of his care. However, after three years the company decided they no longer wanted to pay for Rudy’s care. They sent him a letter explaining that his benefits were being cut off; they used the excuse that his stay in the nursing home was suddenly “no longer necessary.”

The nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti have handled all types of abuse and neglect lawsuits against Alden nursing homes throughout Illinois for many years. Today’s Chicago Tribune tells the story of at least thirteen children in the Chicago area who fell victim to abuse and neglect at Alden Village North, a nursing home located at 7464 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago.

The Tribune’s article exposes the sad truth that abuse and neglect not only happens to the elderly living in Illinois nursing homes, but also to younger residents who require ongoing medical treatment that they cannot receive at home. Parents and family members place their trust with nursing home staff to care for their loved ones, but unfortunately neglect and abuse occur, often due to negligent hiring and short-staffing. One of the victims in the Tribune article was just two years old when he died of asphyxiation because staff at the facility failed to properly monitor his tracheotomy tube for over 3.5 hours. The child had a habit of playing with the tube but staff did nothing to prevent this behavior and did not notify his physician of his actions.

In another sad case, a nine-year-old boy who suffered from severe cognitive deficits died due to nursing home neglect. Staff failed to properly care for his g-tube, failed to notice a change in his condition and failed to communicate these changes to his doctor. As a result, he died from bowel obstruction and an infection at a local hospital.
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The American Association for Justice released a comprehensive new report today entitled, “Standing Up For Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans.” This valuable new document offers a great overview of the specific instances in which many seniors are victimized and the ways that attorneys, like our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti, can help vindicate their rights.

As the report indicates, many people are unaware that a majority of nursing homes are run as for-profit businesses, often part of large chain facilities owned by single corporations. Unfortunately, the drive for profit typically means that senior care is sacrificed. In many ways the need to cut expenses automatically sets up many of these facilities for negligent care. For example, for-profit facilities have 32 percent fewer nurses than their non-profit counterparts which has led to 47 percent more deficiencies in elder care at the business driven homes.

There have always been some problems with the quality of care at many nursing homes. However, as this report documents, the problem is actually on the rise. In the last eight years, between 2000 and 2008, there has been a 22% increase in breaches of elder care that are deemed likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to residents. The problem is not limited to only a few bas facilities, however, as over 90% of nursing homes have been found guilty of at least one violation.

Studies show that larger hospitals and for profit nursing homes are more likely to use feeding tubes in patients with advanced dementia. This contradicts with the evidence that feeding tubes does not prolong life nor do they help with bed sores and other problems. Research shows that most people and family members of people with dementia would rather die than receive a feeding tube. However, according to research, one-third of nursing home residents with advanced dementia have feeding tubes. Two-thirds of these tubes were inserted during an acute-care hospitalization. On average, feeding tubes were placed in 7.9 per 100 patients. Nursing homes have added incentives to send patients to hospitals because someone else will pay for their developing problems. These problems include bed sores and low caloric intake. Families and patients should consider all the options before allowing a feeding tube.

The Chicago nursing home lawyers of Levin & Perconti have seen the problems that feeding tubes can create. In January of this year, Steven Levin and Margaret Battersby filed a nursing home negligence lawsuit against the Renaissance at 87th. This nursing home had failed to properly care for a woman’s gastic feeding tubes. Complications were so severe that the woman died one day after being transferred to the hospital. Attorney Levin noted that this was once again an example of a nursing home putting profits before patient care. If you or a loved one has had difficulties with a nursing home and feeding tubes, please consult a Chicago lawyer. To read more about the feeding tube study, please click the link.

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