Both houses of Congress are considering legislation to improve nursing home care. There has been no new legislation regarding nursing homes since 1987. Statistics have demonstrated that care provided to our elderly is still not what it should be.
The National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (“NCCNHR”) http://www.nccnhr.org/ is pushing Congress to act on the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act which is a part of the draft health care reform bills that the House and Senate are considering. The bills would make nursing homes disclose their owners and operators. Several large chains have been bought out by global private equity investors;. Now a majority of nursing homes are owned by for-profit corporations. The way these companies structure themselves, even our state health regulators can’t tell who the owners are. This can create a dangerous situation for the residents, because no one is truly accountable for what happens to them. The reform would also give families a lot more information about the nursing homes that are caring for their loved ones in, including whether they have adequate staff. It would help the federal government get better oversight over these multi-state chains.
The bills include these proposals:
- Require nursing homes to disclose their owners and all the myriad related entities that own, finance, or operate them.
- Require CMS to collect and report accurate information about the hours of nursing care facilities provide and their turnover and retention rates.
- Report enforcement actions on Nursing Home Compare.
- Require better state complaint handling and provide resident representatives and workers better protection from retaliation.
- Require nursing homes to do more internal quality assurance.
- Revise Nursing Home Compare to provide better information.
- Pilot independent federal monitoring of nursing home chains.
- Hold civil monetary penalties in escrow while nursing homes pursue lengthy and usually unsuccessful appeals. (The House bill would increase CMP amounts.)
- Require 60 days notice of closures when nursing homes close voluntarily; prohibit new admissions, ensure appropriate relocation plans, and continue federal funding until residents are relocated.
- Include dementia care and abuse prevention in nurse aide training.
To contact your Senator and Congressman you can use the following websiteshttp://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml. For Senators, click on http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Here is a draft letter NCCNHR proposes: I want to urge Senator _______ and Senator ________ and Representative ___________ to support nursing home transparency and improvement in health care reform. The elderly and people with disabilities in our state deserve nursing homes that are transparent and accountable, and families need information to make good choices when they choose a nursing home for someone.
Civil litigation attorney Billy Cunningham practice concentrates on personal injury, wrongful death, nursing home abuse, business litigation, environmental law and insurance matters. He is licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as in the U.S. Court of Military Appeals, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States.