U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is calling for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to take more aggressive steps to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect and violent crimes against nursing home residents.
The Minnesota Democrat cited a recent Star Tribune special report that detailed repeated failures by regulators to investigate reports of abuse at long-term care facilities across the state. The report detailed hundreds of cases of nursing home residents being beaten, sexually assaulted, or robbed. But the majority of incidents were never investigated and oftentimes those who committed the crimes never faced consequences, the special report found. Meanwhile, the abuse victims and their family members wait months or years for state investigators to provide them with answers.
Klobuchar also called for the head of the Government Accountability Office to review federal nursing home regulations and recommend changes to current practices at Health and Human Services and federal law to better protective vulnerable nursing home residents.
Currently, the majority of nursing homes and assisted living facilities require new residents to sign binding arbitration agreements before moving into a facility that strips their right to a trial by jury in the event of elder abuse or neglect, or even wrongful death. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) last year proposed new guidelines that would require long-term care facilities to remove forced arbitration clauses from their new resident contracts if they wanted to be reimbursed for patient care. But the nursing home industry fought this measure. As a result, cases of nursing home abuse and neglect are brushed aside, and the public rarely hears a peep.
“There are clearly major, major problems that are resulting in serious injuries, rip-offs, and even deaths,” Klobuchar said in an interview. “We need to look at everything from the timeliness of the [abuse] investigations, to the notifications of family members, to our federal laws … and come up with some solutions.”
Source: Star Tribune