Federal Nursing Home Bill Could Improve Maryland Elder Care

When we send our loved ones to a nursing home, it can often be a nerve-wracking process. Ensuring that our family members are taken care of, receiving quality care, and comfortable can shape up to be quite the challenging endeavor when it comes to finding the right facility and staff. Sometimes, however, our elders end up in nursing homes that may not be as great—and may not uphold the expected standard of care. When this happens, our seniors experience low-quality care and sometimes even abuse or neglect.

How Common Is Nursing Home Abuse in Maryland?

Unfortunately, Maryland is no stranger to elder abuse and neglect. In 2019, the Maryland Department of Aging reported that of 4,948 complaints that were investigated by the agency, 350 were alleged resident abuse cases. Separately, the Maryland Department of Health, Office of Health Care Quality received 1,427 reports of alleged abuse and 693 allegations of neglect in 2019.

These issues, however, are not unique to only Maryland elders. To combat these challenges and to improve regulatory oversight over nursing home facilities, several U.S. senators recently introduced a new bill targeted at improving the quality of care for seniors all over the country.

Known as the Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act of 2021, the legislation has multiple provisions aimed specifically at improving the resident care experience. From addressing staffing issues to reimbursement challenges from Medicare and Medicaid programs, the bill places seniors first by addressing multiple facets of improving quality of care.

For example, the provisions require a 24-hour a day registered nurse in all facilities, enhanced Medicaid funding to address staffing, and a full-time infection preventionist available on site. In addition, the bill also requires the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to launch a study on better understanding ideal nurse staffing ratios in senior facilities. This data will inform facilities of what optimal staffing looks like and require them to adhere to these numbers.

To address issues relating to abuse, the bill also requires the Secretary to look into methods and opportunities for improvement of survey and enforcement practices so that states can direct facilities to proactively address allegations of abuse and neglect. To do this, the Secretary will be required to look into processes that ensure timely correction of obvious deficiencies and investigations into complaints of abuse and neglect. Because the state must also be equipped to address these issues once the Secretary makes their findings, improvements to hiring, training, and retention of state surveyors will also be addressed so that new policies can be successfully implemented.

A companion bill in the House of Representatives is expected to be introduced after the fall recess. If this bill successfully passes, it could drastically improve the quality of care for Maryland seniors, but also elders across the country.

Do You Need a Maryland Nursing Home Attorney?

If you suspect that a loved one is being mistreated or neglected at a Maryland nursing home, contact the dedicated attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen for assistance. Our lawyers have collected more than $55 million for our clients and have assisted clients in all types of claims involving seniors across Maryland. To schedule a free consultation today, contact us at 800-654-1949.

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