ATTENTION SENIORS – THE FIX IS IN
For years now, we have reported about the horrific abuses that we have uncovered in Florida nursing homes. Bedsores down to the bone infected with gangrene, repeated falls resulting in death, dehydration to the point of renal failure, malnutrition, overmedication for purposes of sedation “medicinal babysitting”, wandering that led to drowning, physical abuse and sexual abuse just to name a few types of cases. We have also attempted to educate the public that far too often these disgusting acts of neglect go unnoticed by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and, moreover when action is taken the penalty has no practical effect. In fact, our last blog examined this exact issue in detail.
The response to the blog was overwhelming. The average Floridian had no idea just how bad the lack of nursing home oversight was. Shockingly, however, some legislators in Tallahassee want to pass legislation that will actually make the problem worse. A recent story in the Herald Tribute (https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20200217/floridarsquos-worst-nursing-homes-could-receive-fewer-inspections) examined two bills (Senate Bill 1726 and House Bill 731) that would add fuel to the nursing home abuse fire. In the face of the disaster at the Hollywood Hills facility, which shed a national spotlight on the extent of the nursing home abuse problem in Florida, these bills would actually reduce the number of inspections at problem nursing homes. As part of the legislation, AHCA would be required to do only one additional inspection at a nursing home after the agency cites them with a Class 1 or multiple Class 2 violations. Moreover, AHCA’s inspection fine would be cut in half, from only $6,000 to only $3,000.
Clearly, at a time when Florida nursing homes desperately need increased oversight, this proposed legislation would benefit solely the pockets of nursing home owners at the expense of their residents. Tragically, for some, the “price” to pay will be their life. As lawyers who fight each day to protect the vulnerable population of our state’s nursing homes, we stand staunchly against this proposed legislation. We strongly encourage you to join us by contacting your state representatives and let them know to vote no on Senate Bill 1726 and House Bill 731.