Congress Considers Nursing Home Abuse Legislation

Last week (mid-November, 2007), Congress held hearings on nursing home abuse issues.  According to a post at, Congress is also examining increasing corporate owenership of nursing homes and the issue of profit vs. care. reports:

Nursing home abuse is one of the most serious problems facing this country’s elderly.  Though it concedes that the true number is probably much higher, The National Center on Elder Abuse estimates at least one in 20 nursing home patients has been the victim of abuse. According to the National Center’s study, 57% of nurses’ aides working in long-term care facilities admitted to having witnessed, and even participating in, acts of abuse. The report sites systemic problems within the nursing home industry, like inadequate pay for workers and chronic understaffing, as contributing to the epidemic of abuse. There are nearly 1.4 million Americans living in nursing homes right now, and that number is expected to more than double in the next decade. As it does, advocates for the elderly and disabled fear that incidences of abuse will continue to climb as well.

As a result of yesterday’s hearings, two Senators, Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin), are working on legislation that would stiffen penalties for nursing home abuse.  The bipartisan legislation would give more enforcement power to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees state inspections of the nation’s 16,400 nursing homes and also pays for the care of many poor and elderly residents.

Note that the Congressional action relates to federal penalties for nursing home abuse.  We have no news about any planned legislation in the upcoming Georgia legislative session.

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