For years, policymakers have known about the pervasive presence and impact of nursing home abuse in America. Recently, a bipartisan federal investigation revealed that lacking care for seniors has been disproportionately clustered within less than five percent of the nation’s nursing home facilities.
According to a recent article, poor nursing home care has been clustered among facilities listed under the Special Focus Facility (SFF) program. Facilities listed under the SFF program include the country’s worst-performing institutions, which “substantially fail” to meet basic care standards required by the federal government. Some commentators have noted that SFF nursing homes are considered “repeat offenders” who have a “pattern of neglecting and harming vulnerable residents.” Until recently, landing on the SFF list was shameful—but without proper enforcement or rehabilitation mechanisms in place, many facilities have not been held accountable.
To combat the issue, however, policymakers are stepping up to the plate. Legislative action from Congress could improve and expand quality care in nursing homes not just in Maryland but across the country. A new bill known as the Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2021 proposes to expand the list of monitored facilities, increase resources for facilities that are underperforming, and establish an independent Advisory Council to inform federal agencies how to provide the best care possible and evaluate nursing home facilities.
The bill would also expand the SFF program to include facilities that could qualify as candidates for SFF but are not yet officially members. SFF programs that qualify as candidates are considered poorly performing facilities that are on the periphery of the SFF list but not necessarily on it. Under this proposed federal bill, SFF qualified facilities, in addition to SFF program members, would also be subject to increased scrutiny and regulation.
Although the bill includes getting several major federal agencies involved in enforcing penalties against SFF nursing home facilities, many senior justice advocates argue that the bill does not go far enough in enforcing punishment against poor-performing facilities with a record of abuse. Because the intent of the bill is to evaluate these facilities and move toward a path of improvement, punitive measures are still lacking for poorly performing facilities since the government simply improves facility compliance with existing regulations rather than creating stricter requirements.
Unfortunately, Maryland, similar to other states, is no stranger to elder abuse cases and challenges. In fact, there are several nursing home facilities in Maryland that are SFF candidates and one facility that is definitively on the SFF list. The bill, however, could be a step forward for raising awareness for the many improvements needed in our national and Maryland long-term care system. Our seniors and elders deserve humane, quality patient care, and the government should facilitate increased enforcement and accountability mechanisms to ensure that our loved ones are properly taken care of in these facilities.
Do You Need a Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer?
If you or a loved one has not received adequate, quality care at a Maryland nursing home, you should contact the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen for assistance today. Our attorneys have years of experience representing nursing home clients in a variety of issues and will help you proceed with your legal claim with ease. To schedule a free consultation today, contact us at 800-654-1949.