Most cases of Illinois nursing home abuse go unreported. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers know that many residents receive treatment that falls below that standard that is required-but few ever do anything about it. The gap between mistreatment and accountability is a continuing problem that is part of the reason that many of the area’s worst facilities continue to mistreat residents day after day.
One would hope that these facilities would be motivated to improve their care by a basic commitment to the residents’ well-being. All too often that isn’t the case. Instead, many for-profit owners and operates enact the changes necessary to improve care only when their profit is on the line. When victims resort to the legal system to secure their rights, those facilities are often hit in the pocketbooks spurring important change.
The need to exert pressure on homes to improve care is why all advocates should welcome efforts like the one recently reported in Cincinnati News about federal regulators seeking tough punishments for a negligent nursing home. The publication reports on local authorities who are pursuing a federal False Claims Act against the facility that provided poor care and then sought payment for that care.
The civil lawsuit was filed late last week against the negligent nursing home. The complaint alleges that the care provided was essentially “worthless” and resulted in the death of several residents. The company then billed Medicare and Medicaid for those services, constituting a fraud upon the federal government. The spokesman of the Justice Department explains that the act is a tool at the government’s disposal to punish wrongdoing that leads to the abuse of taxpayer dollars.
Administrators received complaints about the facility for years. Some of the complaints were so egregious that a press conference was called by the county attorney urging those with loved ones at the facility to take extra steps to ensure that they were being properly cared for. Those complaints were eventually forwarded to the state’s Attorney General-eventually leading to the present legal action.
While False Claims Act are not commonly filed against nursing homes, they have been successfully argued in several states. This legal maneuver allows prosecutors to seek out much harsher fines against these homes than are otherwise available under state neglect and abuse statutes. If found liable, the company is required to pay several thousand dollars in fines for each violation as well return three times the amount of money that they fraudulent took to federal coffers.
The care of seniors in all locations-from nursing homes to their own homes-begins with the quality of the workers who are providing the aid. When those employees fail to provide adequate care, resident lives are on the line. Taxpayers should never be subsidizing this inadequate treatment of vulnerable community members. Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers at Levin & Perconti know first-hand that nothing will do more to improve the care of our elders at nursing homes than ensuring each and every employee cares deeply about the true mission of the facility: providing the best care possible at all times. Even a single deviation from that standard can have deadly consequences.
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