Health Advocates Criticize Proposed Law Forgiving Nursing Home Fines

One state legislature currently is considering a bill that would permit reduction or elimination of fines against nursing homes.

“I don’t think residents’ health and safety would be helped with this bill, and it may be harmed,” said the executive director of a watchdog group. “What it does create is an even greater incentive for facilities to continue until they are caught.”

The state senator who introduced the bill said he did so to codify what has been an informal negotiating system involving the state's department of health and nursing homes that are disciplined for care-related violations.

He said the bill would help fix problems in nursing homes. The bill is backed by the nursing home industry, whose spokesman said the state focuses too much on punishing nursing homes rather than helping them improve care.

The nursing home industry made more than $25,000 in direct and in-kind contributions to the state senator's 2008 re-election campaign, but he denied those played a role in his sponsoring the bill.

The watchdog agency said Tuesday it would be “morally repugnant” to reduce or eliminate a fine if abuse or neglect in a nursing home leads to the rape or death of a resident, yet that would be allowed under the bill. For more, read the story.

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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia. 


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