On Wednesday, the United States Senate Committee on Finance held a public hearing entitled “Not Forgotten: Protecting Americans From Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes.” The hearing included statements from adult children of nursing home residents who were the victims of rape, abuse, and neglect at the hands of their caretakers.
Letter Describes How Recent Government Actions Endanger Nursing Home Residents
Prior to the hearing, six long term care advocacy organizations banded together to send a letter to the Senate Committee on Finance to remind them of the government’s recent actions that have scaled back protections for those in nursing homes.
The organizations, The Long Term Care Community Coalition, Center for Medicare Advocacy, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, Justice in Aging, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, began the letter by first thanking the committee for holding the hearing, followed by this statement: “Unfortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been rolling back these resident rights and protections, often at the request of the nursing home industry, for the purpose of reducing so-called provider ‘burdens’.”
The letter then details some of the actions CMS has taken in the past 2 years that have eased restrictions for nursing homes, much to the detriment of the vulnerable population for whom they promise to provide care. As detailed in the letter, these harmful regulatory easements are:
- Giving nursing homes a year and a half to comply with new regulations intended to protect resident safety and enhance care.
- Reducing fines from per day to per instance.
- Cutting emergency preparedness training from once a year to once every two years.
- Changing recently beefed up “Requirements of Participation” for nursing homes so that they are actually less strict for nursing homes.
Government’s Own Reports Show Alarming Amounts of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
The letter concludes by stating the role of the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in regards to nursing home residents and how CMS’ recent moves to lessen burdens on the nursing home industry is “ignoring this long-standing mandate.”
Furthering their point, the letter gives facts from reports issued by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Government Accountability Office. An OIG report discovered that within just 2.1 weeks of being admitted to a nursing home, a third of nursing home residents will be the victim of some sort of harm. That same report found that nearly 60% of these incidents can be prevented.
Nursing home abuse and neglect has always been a crisis. Anyone whom has watched a loved one suffer in these situations knows the nursing home industry has long needed reform. We believe that high profile cases such as the nursing home deaths in Florida following Hurricane Irma, the birth of a child to a mentally and physically-impaired young woman in an Arizona care facility, as well as the thousands of other heartbreaking stories are finally catching the attention of lawmakers. Every single one of us will face the decision of caring for an aging parent, loved one, and even ourselves in the future. With Congress seemingly willing to listen, perhaps this is the beginning of strict nursing home regulations that will protect those we love from suffering in their golden years.
Levin & Perconti: Chicago’s Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Attorneys
If your loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect in a nursing home, you need an attorney who will fight for the answers you and your loved one deserve. For nearly 30 years we have specialized in nursing home cases and have the resources, experience, and persistence you need when demanding the truth from nursing home operators and staff. Our attorneys demand answers and get results.
Contact us now for a FREE consultation: 312-332-2872 in Chicago, toll free at 1-877-374-1417 or by completing our online case evaluation form.
More information on Wednesday’s hearing can be found here.