Lobbyists from Kentucky’s nursing home industry have helped compose two bills with the goal of placing restrictions on inspections of nursing homes and on personal injury and wrongful death suits filed against facility owners.
The first bill, House Bill 210, would require Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services inspectors to let nursing home management attend interviews with employees. The inspectors will also be barred from revealing information about what they witnessed during the inspection to anyone outside the Cabinet. This was filed by House Majority Leader John Carney and written by the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities.
While the bill is being reviewed, national experts are pointing out flaws. Employees may be unwilling to reveal problems like patient neglect, undertraining, and understaffing, to an inspector if a member of their management is present. In addition, inspectors would no longer be able to bring issues to light that were not being addressed by their regulatory agencies because they would be violating the bill’s confidentiality agreement.
Currently, the Cabinet allows managers to attend inspection interviews with employees; however, this is only meant to happen when employees suffer from extreme anxiety. It’s possible the current policy is being abused by some supervisors.
Carney claims the bill was originally meant to have a narrower focus and was supposed to allow nursing home residents with mental incapacities the ability to be joined by legal representation during interviews with state inspectors. The bill has been assigned to the House Health and Family Services Committee.
The second bill, House Bill 289, plans to shield passive investors from lawsuits involving personal injury and wrongful death. It was filed by Rep. Steve Riley. For the purposes of the bill, a passive investor is an owner of a long-term care facility who does not make daily management decisions regarding how the facility is run.
A corporate-run nursing home could have multiple owners collecting revenue from the operations; however, only one management company will be identified for the record. When a family sues a nursing home, the situation can become complex when those owners shift assets from one company to another.
This bill, which was also composed by the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, claims to protect passive investors who are targeted for issues they have no control over. Instead, the people who have the decision-making ability would be the ones held accountable for instances of abuse or neglect.
Kentucky’s nursing homes, on average, have been rated as below average by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services based on the quality of care provided to residents.