Tag Archives: nursing homes

No Ice Floes Handy?

According to legend, when their elderly became burdensome, Eskimos put them on ice floes and let them drift out to sea.

If I thought that Trump and his “best people” could read, I’d suspect they were emulating the Eskimos.

A week or so ago, a friend who no longer lives in Indianapolis was in town, and met my husband and me for breakfast. During the “catching up” talk that takes place when old friends haven’t seen each other for a while, we asked him what his wife was doing. He said she’d been working part-time as an advocate for nursing home patients–a position required as a condition of federal grants for nursing home care–but that the Trump Administration had eliminated the requirement, along with a number of other regulations intended to protect the sick and elderly residents of such institutions. So she was looking for another job.

I was pretty incredulous; why would even this benighted administration refuse to protect helpless old folks against the well-documented abuses encountered in numerous substandard nursing homes?

Turned out, however, our friend was right. I saw this article from The Hill not long after our conversation:

The Trump administration is reportedly rolling back the use of fines against nursing homes that have been cited for violations such as neglect or mistreatment.

The move comes after the nursing home industry requested the change in the Medicare program’s penalty protocols, The New York Times reported over the holiday weekend.

The American Health Care Association had argued that inspectors were too focused on finding wrongdoings at nursing homes instead of assisting the facilities.

A 2001 Congressional investigation uncovered reports of serious, physical, sexual and verbal abuse in a third of the nation’s nursing homes. That led to more monitoring and additional regulation. Since 2013, nearly 6,500 nursing homes have been cited  for one or more serious violations. Approximately two-thirds of those were fined by Medicare.

Nevertheless, the personnel installed by Trump at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services argued that the regulations and fines were counterproductive.

“Rather than spending quality time with their patients, the providers are spending time complying with regulations that get in the way of caring for their patients and doesn’t increase the quality of care they provide.”

A lawyer from the Center for Medicare Advocacy disagreed, observing that the revised regulations and diminished penalties have “pretty much emasculated enforcement, which was already weak.”

So let’s see….this administration wants tough penalties for street crime and drug use and illegal immigration, because Trump and Sessions say punishment is a deterrent to socially undesirable behaviors. But we don’t need to fine or otherwise punish the owners of nursing homes that mistreat their vulnerable inhabitants. (Sorry–I know the word “vulnerable” has been banned.) We can  gently suggest they desist, and maybe those bedsores will go away by themselves….

The regulations no longer being enforced weren’t imposed by some abstract, rule-happy big government bureaucrat; they were put in place because of evidence that far too many nursing homes were abusing and neglecting their elderly, incapacitated patients, and doing so with impunity.

Someone needs to explain to me just how forbidding elder abuse “gets in the way of quality care.”

Actually, ice floes might be more humane….