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U.S. Senate Hearing Highlights CMS’ Faulty Care Policies for Nursing Home Residents

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On March 6, 2019, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance gathered for a hearing to discuss cases of nursing home abuse and neglect that have plagued residents throughout the nation. Predominantly, the hearing shed light on the lack of preventive measures The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have in place to protect residents from abuse and neglect. Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led the hearing along with Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR).

During the hearing, several family members of abused and neglected residents shared testimonies about the harm and suffering their loved ones endured as a result of the grossly substandard care provided. One Minnesota woman recalled her mother’s rape by a nursing home caregiver, which left her mother crying and hitting her private parts for days, unable to communicate what happened. “We assured my mother that she would be safe: she would not suffer. I can never overcome the guilt of realizing that these promises were not kept: She was not safe, she was raped,” the daughter shared.

A woman from Iowa detailed her mother’s death while in a nursing home facility that had been given the highest rankings in quality measures by CMS. According to testimony, her mother was transferred to a hospital where she was found to be extremely dehydrated. The emergency room doctor stated the woman had not been given fluids in the last four to five days and said he planned on reporting the abuse. The woman passed away shortly after.

Long-Term Care Advocacy Groups Fight for Reform

Six advocacy groups that continually work to improve the lives of long-term care residents sent a letter to the Committee to address concerns they had of abuse, neglect and harm in the nursing home setting.

“Unfortunately, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been rolling back these resident rights and protections, often at the request of the nursing home industry, for the purpose of reducing so-called provider ‘burdens,’” the letter stated.

Among other things, the following were listed in the letter as some of the chief complaints regarding CMS’ cutbacks over the last two years:

  • Nursing home fines have been reduced from per day to per instance.
  • Staff will only be trained on emergency preparedness every two years, rather than annually.
  • A nursing home’s “Requirements of Participation” are now less strict than before.

Additionally, according to several 2014 reports by the Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office, nearly one third of all Medicare beneficiaries experience abuse while residing in a federally-funded facility. Typically, the abuse occurs within a resident’s first 15.5 days at the nursing home. According to the OIG, roughly 59 percent of these incidences were preventable.

Further ongoing concerns include lack of proper citations, understaffing, the overuse of antipsychotic drugs, improper discharge and the all too frequent change of ownership among nursing home companies.

Sadly, the testimonies shared in the Committee’s hearing on March 6 are not isolated incidents. Stories of nursing home abuse and neglect are pervasive throughout the country, and CMS’ deregulation and faulty care policies make it easier and easier for nursing home abuse and neglect to occur.

Finding Attorneys Who Can Help

Over the years, we have helped countless clients and victims of nursing home abuse and neglect fight for the justice they deserve. While we are thankful for the Committee’s initiative to hold a hearing for the purpose of addressing nursing home abuse and neglect, we know reform does not happen overnight, and sadly, such poor treatment and care is prevalent in long-term care facilities today.

If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home abuse or neglect, do not wait to get help. Our attorneys have years of experience successfully fighting for our clients and recovering funds, and we would be glad to have the opportunity to help you get the answers and justice you deserve, too. Call us today at (901) 322-4232 for a free, confidential consultation.