THE WILL POWER REPORT - Nursing Home Problems Classified?

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Nothing but the Truth!

By Will Power

Will Power LogoDecember 28, 2008 (San Diego) —  Another “lame-duck” Federal rule concerning Nursing homes has been approved by the outgoing Bush Administration. The rule places State examiners who police Nursing Homes under a Federal Gag Order which prevents patients and relatives of elderly and infirm patients from finding out about lapses in patient care.

Unless approved by Federal Officials, the information about problems in Nursing Home Health care is “classified”. Only the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services can release damaging data about accidents, or patient abuse. What stupidity!

In one recent case, Maggie Gibson suffered a broken leg from a fall. Mrs. Gibson, who suffered from dementia, then lost the use of her legs because the Nursing Home failed to report the accident.

Most states independently manage and inspect Nursing Home care. But any negative findings must be reported to Medicare first, then Medicare decides if the findings are released to patients, their families, or the press.

Nursing Home care has become a huge moneymaker for managed health care systems. As baby boomers age, more and more will be entering Nursing Homes, many paid for by Medicare. Managed Health Insurance Companies have been donating huge amounts to both Republicans and Democrats.

But stories of Nursing Home abuse and neglect have brought about numerous lawsuits, many resulting in million-dollar judgments. These rule changes which make it difficult for patients of their families to get information about Nursing Home abuse or neglect clearly do not serve the public good, but only protect private parties from potential lawsuits.

Will Power is a retired teacher who holds a masters degree in creative writing.