Nursing Home Violation Fines Shrink Under Trump, Favors Arbitration

Caps on Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Since Donald Trump’s Presidency, the Amount and Severity of Nursing Home Citations Has Gone Down Significantly

Nursing homes are run primarily by for profit companies. These companies care about their bottom line. By taking profits away for bad care, the nursing home is dis-incentivized away from neglecting residents. If the nursing home provides bad care, they will lose money. Makes sense right?

Unfortunately, a recent analysis of the nursing home fines in the US reveal a sharp downward trend in citations. This does not mean that nursing homes are providing better care, just that they are fined less.

The cause behind this is the Trump administration’s change in the way nursing homes are cited. The result is a gentler system of fines which amount to peanuts for large corporate chains.

“It’s not changing behavior [at nursing homes] in the way that we want… For a small nursing home, it could be real money, but for bigger ones, it’s more likely a rounding error.” NPR, Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The New York Times has found that 4 in 10 American nursing homes were cited at least once for a serious violation. Now, under lax citations and forced arbitration, the nursing home industry will face less scrutiny and public accountability. As the Des Moines Register reported, the nursing home industry has a friend in Donald Trump. Senior residents; not so much.

Why Does Trump Favor the Nursing Home Industry Over Elderly Residents?

Infographic on Nursing Home Abuse FactsThe Trump administration has favored roll backs of all things Obama. This includes more stringent regulations on nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The Hill previously reported Trump’s goal of lessening of fines against negligent nursing homes back in 2017. The desire of lifting regulations on long term care facilities has come to life. The evidence is visible in the down trending fines sanctioned against American nursing homes found committing bad behavior. The result is, unsurprisingly, worse care to those who need it the most.

Trump Administration Brings Back Nursing Home Arbitration

Arbitration was designed to avoid lengthy court battles over complex issues between two savvy parties, like dueling corporations. The idea of employing this kind of combat to disparate parties, like a nationwide nursing home chain and a confused, elderly 88 year old nursing home resident, is patently unfair.

The prior administration recognized the inherent unfairness of forced nursing home arbitration. In 2016, President Obama’s CMS issued an order prohibiting nursing home arbitration agreements. Under President Trump, the federal agency flipped back to favoring arbitration agreements in nursing homes, repealing the Obama era ban.

The result is similar to the above Trump-inspired lessening of nursing home fines. A prioritizing of corporate profits over frail, vulnerable nursing home patients.

As attorneys, we see more outrageous facility conduct and less accountability. The result is obvious; more death and suffering of our elderly loved ones.

By reducing administrative oversight and potential punishment in the civil justice system, our federal government is providing an environment ripe for elder abuse and neglect inside the long term care industry.

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