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Members of Congress seek added protections for nursing home residents

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency, is in the process of overhauling the federal regulations that govern nursing homes. The CMS is expected to release these regulations in September 2016. In anticipation, 32 members of Congress have asked the CMS to change some of the proposed regulations. In a letter dated July 20, 2016, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D- IL) along with 31 other members of Congress, asked the CMS to make the following rules:

  • Require that nursing homes have least one registered nurse on staff 24 hours a day
  • Require that nursing homes have a minimum number of direct care nurses on staff based on the number of residents
  • Ban the use of binding arbitration to resolve disputes between residents and facilities
  • Reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs among patients

According to Rep. Schakowsky and other members of Congress, the creation of these rules would "have a significant and lasting effect on the safety and well-being of millions of current and future nursing home residents."

What does this mean to someone in a nursing home and their loved ones?

There is no question that if these recommendations, if implemented, would have a positive impact on the lives of nursing home residents. First, these facilities would have more nurses on staff. Secondly, facilities would give fewer anti-psychotic drugs to residents who may not benefit from them. Lastly, individuals and families who have disputes with nursing homes could litigate these disputes in court, rather than before an arbitrator who is potentially biased toward the nursing home. It will be interesting to watch how the CMS responds to Congress on these issues in the coming months.

If you have reason to believe that someone you love who lives in a nursing home is being neglected or abused, you need to contact a lawyer immediately. Based in Jackson and serving families across Mississippi, we at Williams Newman Williams PLLC provide tough, skilled legal representation.

Source: Congressional leaders campaign for tougher nursing home regulations, McKnight's, July 26, 2016, by Emily Mongan

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