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The study sheds light on the tremendous amount of anxiety the baby boomer generation experiences regarding their parents’ quality of life as they age.  Boomers worry that their parents will be forced into a nursing home, and their quality-of-life will deteriorate. They are worried that their parents will be sad, lonely, scared — or even worse — mistreated.

Life Care Planning, Estate Protection, Disability,
VA & Medicaid Assistance Lawyers

Nursing Home Reform Law

A recent study found that 89 percent of seniors want to age-in-place.  In fact, the persons questioned for the research study, "Aging in Place in America," stated they feared moving into a nursing home and the loss of their independence far more than death.

 

The study tells us that above all else, seniors value their ability to live independently.  But what is a senior to do when their medical condition or their memory problems rob them of their independence?

 

The children of seniors, today's boomers, were also interviewed regarding their attitude towards their parents' aging in place. Their answers echoed the parental desires and concerns over aging in place and living independently.

 

The study sheds light on the tremendous amount of anxiety the baby boomer generation experiences regarding their parents' quality of life as they age.  Boomers worry that their parents will be forced into a nursing home, and their quality-of-life will deteriorate. They are worried that their parents will be sad, lonely, scared - or even worse - mistreated.

 

Nursing Home Reform Law

 

In the last 20 years the quality of nursing homes have improved. But there are still a lot of problems.  This is the conclusion of another report, made by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The report examines the progress nursing homes have made over the course of the past 20 years since the Nursing Home Reform Act became law in 1987.

 

The Nursing Home Reform Act instituted higher standards for patient care. The law increased staffing requirements and established a number of resident rights, including the right to be free from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect. It also established an enforcement system and merged Medicare and Medicaid standards and certification requirements.

 

Although there have been improvements, the report notes, there are still serious problems. The number of facilities cited for violations is still high. In 2006, nearly one-fifth of all certified facilities were cited for deficiencies that caused harm or immediate jeopardy to residents. Staffing levels have improved somewhat, but studies indicate that nursing homes are still significantly understaffed. In addition, while there were improvements in the system immediately after the law's passage, improvements seem to have reached a plateau.

 

The report examines some possible future strategies for improving care, including reforming Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement, changing organizational culture, and providing more information to consumers.

News That Confirms Our Worst Fears

 

The fears seniors and boomers have regarding nursing homes were given substance recently by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) - the federal agency that is charged with enforcement of the 20-year-old Nursing Home Reform Act.  CMS made public a list of 54 nursing homes - called Special Focus Facilities (SFFs) - that provide especially poor quality care to their residents. The publicly-disclosed list was part of a larger list of 128 facilities that were designated SFFs as of October 2007.  Nationwide, there are more than 16,000 nursing facilities. CMS's news release did not explain how the 54 SFFs were selected for public disclosure.

 

The Des Moines Register reported that CMS, which refused to disclose the full list of SFFs, had shared the complete list "with lobbyists for the nursing home industry," specifically, with the American Health Care Association (AHCA).  A spokeswoman for AHCA "said the association cannot publicly release its copy of the list because of restrictions imposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services," leading The Des Moines Register to observe, "It's unusual for a government agency charged with protecting the public to give information to an industry it regulates while withholding that same information from the public."

 

Interest in SFFs escalated. In a December letter, Senator Barak Obama (D, IL) and eight Senate co-signers asked Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to disclose the identity of all 128 Special Focus Facilities (SFFs) or to provide clear guidance to states that they may disclose the information to the public.  Citing reports in the press that the complete list of SFFs has been provided to AHCA, the Senators wrote, "Providing information about poorly performing nursing homes to the lobbyists who represent those facilities, and not to the senior citizens who would most benefit from this information, is outrageous."

 

Senator Hillary Clinton (D, NY) with two Senate co-signers has introduced legislation, the "Nursing Home Quality and Transparency Act," (S. 2480) to require public disclosure of all facilities in the SFF program.

 

Richard Habiger is an elder law and life care planning attorney.  You may contact him at 618-549-4529 or Richard@HabigerElderLaw.com.

 

 


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Physical Address
1808 Clark Street, Carterville, Illinois 62918
Phone: 618-985-4529
Toll Free: 800-336-4529

Mailing Address
1808 Clark Street
Carterville, Illinois 62918
Phone: (618) 985-4529