In one of  his last acts in public office, President Bush changed a significant number of federal regulations designed to help the consumer public. One of those was the set of regulations which allowed consumers access to the results of nursing home inspections. Undoing the damage caused by the former President is no small task, but it is an essential one.

Don’t limit access to nursing home inspections

Monday, February 02, 2009

A new rule limiting public access to nursing home inspection reports is a prime example of bureaucracy run amok. Because administrators say requests for information have become too burdensome, the Department of Health and Human Services now says you can’t have copies of inspection reports that might explain how your loved one came to have a broken bone, or bruises.

The requests "divert employees from their federal survey, certification and enforcement responsibilities," said Michael Leavitt, HHS secretary. Under the rule change, state employees who inspect nursing homes for the federal government are reclassified as federal employees who aren’t allowed to provide "privileged" information or documents to the public without approval from the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. We rely on the government to provide services we cannot provide for ourselves, and policing an industry that has had more than its share of shady operators is one of those jobs. But HHS seems to have the idea that the inspections themselves are the end result, and that the public is willing to trust it to do the right thing by our loved ones.

– The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Ky.