Last week I wrote a blog on the proposed Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act introduced in the Senate. This week, let’s explore some of the provisions of that bill .
It will enable state and federal regulators to identify all persons and entities with a significant ownership interest in a nursing home, or that that play an important role in the management, financing and operation of a home. This is important to residents and their families because the operators of nursing home set up several layers of ownership to keep from risking their money if nursing home abuse occurs and a jury awards money. I have seen several instances where nursing home operators will either have no insurance, minimal insurance and then hide behind corporate entities to prevent victims from being compensated. This really is more a reflection of their true interest – it is not caring for residents . It is making profits more important than people. This provision will correct that injustice.
It will strengthen accountability requirements for individual facilities and nursing home chains by requiring them to develop compliance and ethics plans to guard against civil, criminal and administrative violations. If clear standards are set up, the nurses and other employees will know what is truly expected and then be able to give care accordingly.
It will provide for improved reporting of real-time nurse staffing information so that accurate comparisons can be made across nursing homes. Now nursing homes can ‘play’ with their nursing hour statistics to make it appear the residents are getting more nursing care than is actually being delivered.
It will require nursing homes to develop internal quality assurance and performance improvement standards to monitor and improve the quality of care provided to residents. This is important to the residents. Most quality assurance methods and reviews are not discoverable in law suits. The importance here is the it will make the nursing homes seriously look at the care they are giving and to have to answer to regulators if they fail.
There is a provision to update the website so consumers can get more information about the homes. There will be a standardized complaint form online so that residents and families can readily voice their concerns. Also, the reports of a nursing home’s expenditures on direct care will be modified reports to require that it separately accounts for staffing.
All of these provisions will help reduce nursing home abuse and will make the nursing homes more accountable to their residents
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.