The most recent attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system would fundamentally alter Medicaid and jeopardize home and community-based services, according to www.DisabilityScoop.com. A chart outlining the proposed bill is available here.

After a prior Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed, this new effort in the U.S. Senate again seeks to upend the Obama-era law.

The proposal introduced last week by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis. runs into a deadline of September 30. After that date, a simple majority will not suffice to pass the measure – rather, 60 votes would be needed to do so.

Thus, Republicans have until Sept. 30 to repeal Obamacare with only 51 votes in the Senate under the current budget resolution.

Continue Reading New Healthcare Bill Would Impact Medicaid Services

The current administration has set its sights on another federal rule, seeking to eliminate the ban on pre-dispute arbitration agreements for nursing home residents. Pre-dispute arbitration agreements require elderly adults and individuals with disabilities, as well as their families, to waive their right to file a lawsuit in the courts – before admission to a nursing home. As a condition to entering the nursing home, the prospective resident and his or her representative would be required to submit any dispute, including claims of egregious abuse or neglect, to mandatory arbitration proceedings.

The Current Rule

As the rule currently stands, a nursing home resident cannot be required to waive his or her right to access to the court system. This rule preserves the right of vulnerable nursing home residents to sue for injuries caused by nursing home negligence, abuse, and neglect, including pressure sore infections, suffocation caused by restraints, choking, dehydration-related conditions, gangrene, and even sexual assault. Continue Reading Nursing Home Residents Deprived of Right to Sue for Abuse and Neglect

Mandatory Arbitration in Nursing Home Admission Contracts

A proposed rule change introduced by the Trump administration would authorize mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration in long-term care admissions contracts. The proposed rule is in response to an Obama administration rule that prohibited federal funding for long-term care facilities that required residents to resolve disputes through arbitration.

ABA Writes Letter Opposing Rule Change

In a recent letter, the American Bar Association (ABA) advocates for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to retain its current rule prohibiting long-term care facilities from entering into binding arbitration agreements with residents until after a dispute arises. In the letter sent to CMS administrator Seema Verma, the ABA writes that implementing the proposed rule would harm residents’ rights and interests.

Continue Reading ABA Resists Mandatory Arbitration Clauses in Nursing Home Admissions Contracts

The latest tort reform measure, H.R. 1215, the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017, would place caps on medical malpractice damages, limit attorney fees, and modify statutes of limitations. Among other changes to current law, non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits would be limited to $250,000 – and juries would not be informed of this cap on damages. H.R. 1215 would apply to health care lawsuits where coverage for the care was provided or subsidized by the federal government, including through subsidies or tax benefits.

H.R. 1215 would preempt state laws governing health care litigation in several areas, including statutes of limitation, joint and several liability, product liability, and attorney contingency fees.

Proponents of the bill claim that the bill would lower medical liability insurance premiums, and by extension, reduce the incidence of so-called “defensive” medical treatments and lower costs associated with federal health care programs such as Medicaid.

Continue Reading Will Tort Reform Affect Nursing Home Care?

Without a hearing, our new congress wasted no time in trying to severely limit damages in nursing home abuse claims. A newly proposed law called the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 H.R. 1215, seeks to limit non-economic damages in all medical cases to $250K for everyone in the country.

Continue Reading New Congress Trying to Protect Corporations from Nursing Home Abuse Claims

Without a hearing, our new congress wasted no time in trying to severely limit damages in nursing home abuse claims. A newly proposed law called the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017 H.R. 1215, seeks to limit non-economic damages in all medical cases to $250K for everyone in the country.

Continue Reading New Congress Trying to Protect Corporations from Nursing Home Abuse Claims

In 2011, the insurance, pharmaceutical, and nursing home industries worked together with an extraordinary budget to try to deceive American consumers into giving up their constitutional rights through a bill known then as HR-5. This bill would have severely harmed the rights of consumers across the country who were catastrophically injured or killed by any of those industries. The purpose of HR-5 was to allow physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies to increase their ever-burgeoning profit levels. With proponents of the bill outspending lobbying efforts of consumer rights organizations by a ratio of 10 to 1, the bill nonetheless failed when the truth came out.

Continue Reading Big Business after Consumers Once Again

Throughout the country, trusting families are signing nursing home, rehab, and assisted living admission paperwork for someone they care deeply about. These documents are technical, long, and complicated. Hidden in many of these agreements is language that significantly curtails a family’s ability to hold a facility accountable if something terrible happens – including rape, assault, neglect, and death. This language is called “pre-dispute” or “forced” arbitration language.

Pre-dispute forced arbitration is where a person agrees to give up their right to sue in court if an injury or death happens. To be clear, your loved one’s admission to the facility cannot be denied if you don’t agree to arbitration and you get absolutely, 100%, nothing in exchange for agreeing to pre-dispute arbitration.

Continue Reading Forced Pre-Dispute Arbitration Gets Federal Attention

Often, many of the problems that occur in nursing homes are a direct result of terribly insufficient staffing. This knowledge is born out in studies that show a direct correlation between staffing ratios and quality of care.

Despite all of this clear evidence, many facilities only meet the bare minimum hours required under state regulation. Some aides have told me the ratio on their day shift at a nursing home was as high as 1 aide to 14 residents. For those unaware, aides are the people who feed, bathe, and transfer residents, and they are also responsible turning and repositioning any residents who are at risk for developing bed sores. Having only 1 person in charge of caring for 14 patients at the same time is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Continue Reading New Jersey Looks to Improve Staffing Ratios

A recent series of disturbing stories by NPR report finding with objective data what many of us practitioners know already – that in many substandard facilities residents are over medicated with sometimes dangerous medications just to keep them quiet.  This is disturbing because these medications are sometimes powerful, dangerous, and ineffective.  Some even get “black box” warnings from the FDA.  It is a subject I’ve written about before and you can find the full article here.

The most recent NPR article points out that Texas ranks the highest in the United States for residents receiving anti-psychotic medications.  Interestingly, Texas also has caps on non-economic damages of $250,000 – i.e., no matter how negligent a company is and how much pain and suffering they cause, they are capped at $250K in non-economic damages.  Is this a coincidence?

With caps on damages, nursing home companies can more easily factor in lawsuits as a “cost of doing business” as opposed to spending more money to do right by people.  With no caps on damages, juries are free to award what they believe are just damages based on the facts.  The uncertainty of a jury verdict often forces companies to spend the money to do the right thing.  With caps, they know exactly what they’re facing.  It’s yet another reason caps do nothing but hurt people.

Knowing your resident’s medications and the side effects is important.  Don’t be afraid to ask about them in care conferences.