Nursing Home Lobby Fighting Reform Legislation

The nursing home industry is facing a new wave of congressional scrutiny. In response, they have called upon some heavy hitting lobbyists to combat proposed reforms. Among these was The Carlyle Group, a political equity form firm that recently purchased Manor Care, the nation’s largest nursing home chain, for $6.3 billion.

“In spite of existing oversight mechanisms, we continue to see examples of horrific treatment of nursing home residents,” testified Lewis Morris, general counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General. 

Legislation introduced by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl, the Democratic chairman of the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging, could significantly increase oversight and enforcement in an industry that is consistently plagued with ethical and quality of life issues.

Some of the items the nursing care lobby is fighting? – Full disclosure of nursing home ownership, and the establishment of outside monitors to review patient care. The new regulations propose to increase fines to as high as $100,000 if a patient is harmed or dies due to poor care. 

Bruce Yarwood, the head of the American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, criticized the legislation for “enhancing a ‘gotcha’ mentality and system.”

It is no secret to anyone, including myself, who has seen an older loved one sent to a nursing home facility, that the quality-of-life spectrum in the nursing home industry is quite broad indeed, running the gambit from very poor to excellent levels of care. This proposed legislation looks to hold accountable those firms, that simply warehouse the elderly while draining their life savings. In many siuations, these people are subject to mal-nutrition, filthy conditions, bed-sores, lack of activity, lack of much needed sanitary care, etc. Hopefully, this proposed legislation will begin to turn this tide of for-profit suffering at the hands of corporate ownership.

Related links: National Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (Link temporarily down), Obama on Nursing Home Reform,

Read the full article on Politico here



Filed under Politics

3 responses to “Nursing Home Lobby Fighting Reform Legislation

  1. Gregory D. Pawelski

    While the Nursing Home Transparency and Quality of Care Improvement Act proposes collecting accurate information about nurse staffing by comparing it with payroll records, mandatory staffing levels is not in the nursing home bill.

    Federal law only requires nursing homes to provide sufficient staff and services to attain or maintain the highest possible level of physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident, and we know this is insufficient. Minimum standards need to be raised because nursing homes operate at just that level – minimum.

    The lack of staffing can be explained in simplified terms, right down to the basic facts that, without it, residents don’t receive even basic humane care; i.e., fed, hydrated, changed, bathed, turned, given their meds on time and/or given correctly. Lack of staffing, in turn, creates a constant high turnover among even the most highly-trained, dedicated workers.

    Residents lose weight and some starve to death because no one helps them eat or leaves the tray at bedside, out of reach; same thing with drinking fluids; subjected to the humuliation of soiling themselves, often just because no one assists them to the bathroom, and such lack of hygiene also creates physical problems as well, from skin breakdown all the way to deadly, septic pressure sores.

    This lack of care also translates into even more taxpayer dollars down the drain because the health problems that result from the lack of staff means costly hospitalizations, surgeries, and/or other medical treatments and/or medications that wouldn’t have been necessary.

    State regulatory agencies should be stopped from notifying nursing homes when annual inspection dates are impending, giving them time to clean up their act before the surveyors come, like “filling in the blanks” on medication administration records, wound care documentation, doctors’ orders, and monthly care summaries. Filling in the blanks is represents extreme negligence of care that’s happening in those facilities.

    Neglect is the silent killer in nursing homes. By some estimates, malnutrition, dehydration, bedsores and infection – caused by neglect – account for half of nursing home deaths and injuries.

    This nation needs to write or call their federal congressional delegation to be on the ground floor at getting this much needed legislation passed.

  2. Congress has introduced the “Nursing Home Transparency and Quality of Care Improvement Act of 2008.” The bill increases the transparency of nursing home ownership, ensures that residents and their families have information about the quality of care at these facilities, and strengthens enforcement of nursing home compliance with quality of care standards.

    The Nursing Home Act enables nursing home residents and government regulators to better know who actually owns the nursing home and who controls the decision-making that impacts the quality of care provided. In addition, the bill improves the reporting of information on staffing levels and direct patient care expenditures.

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