Nursing Home Concerns with the Affordable Care Act
Host 1: Welcome back to InSight with Dave Farnbaugh who has been kind enough to join us again. We are talking about nursing home care and it's such an important topic. President Obama was reelected yesterday and that obviously will raise some issues because that's going to mean that Obama Care is not being repealed. So what does that mean for nursing home care?
Dave Farnbaugh: Well, it's a practical matter, I think what it's going to mean is that most people are saying that when it is really fully phased in - the reimbursements to nursing homes and other providers is going to be scaled back. As a practical matter, if reimbursements are going to be scaled back, in my mind, what that's going to result in is probably nursing homes trying to accomplish their staffing needs with fewer people. There is sort of an old adage in our business that no matter what type of an injury occurs in a nursing home, whether that be pressure sores, falls, dehydration, or whatever harm occurs in a nursing home - usually relates from under-staffing. If you had adequate staff to take care of the residents based on their needs and their what we call acuity then most injuries in nursing homes wouldn't occur. But if you don't have enough staff, people have a lot of needs and you don't have enough people to cover the various wings and halls in a nursing home. That's where most of the injuries occur.
Host 2: Is that what you're seeing? As the Sweeney Law Firm is handling all these cases against nursing homes, is that the trend you see is that it's under-staffing?
Dave Farnbaugh: I think that's a big part of it. It's under-staffing. One of the ways you can reduce your overhead cost if you own a nursing home is reduce staff. The other thing that we see is unfortunately less resources and time to train people. The people that are employed to work in nursing homes are going into it, caring and compassionate people, that's why they're in a nursing home. Everybody's motivation is good who runs a nursing home. Nobody wants to see somebody get hurt in a nursing home, but these are people that have a lot of needs and these people that work there, nurse's aids and nurses, they require a lot of training for the specific needs of the elderly. So we see often times when we sue nursing homes that the training is inadequate and that results to injuries. That's one of the trends we're seeing. One of the more disturbing trends that we're seeing nowadays in cases against nursing homes is the notion now that some nursing homes are not carrying liability insurance. It's hard to believe. In Indiana, if you drive a car, you have to have insurance. In the state of Indiana, it's pretty remarkable, if you own a nursing home, you don't have to carry liability insurance. I tell people that and they're stunned. Another trend that we're seeing is a lot of nursing homes are asking families when they're doing their admission paper work to sign an agreement that says you're going to give up your right to make a legal claim against a nursing home. It's called forced arbitration, where you agree that if you have some sort of dispute with a nursing home or someone's injured in connection with nursing home care, you have to sign an arbitration agreement that calls for your case to be decided by someone that's an arbitrary for the nursing home industry. That's not exactly the fairest way to handle a dispute. Those are some of the things we see. What we've done at our office is put a lot of information on our website. If you go to our website, you're going to find a section on nursing homes that contains a lot of helpful information for consumers about what to look for in placing their loved one in a nursing home, what are some of the things to look for, questions to ask, and those sorts of things. We really think that we've really developed a fountain of information for all things related to nursing home and nursing home care.
Host 2: Well that's a great place for people to go, we're all in some situation where we need to be aware or know what we would do if we need a nursing home for ourselves or a loved one. Check that out at SweeneyLawFirm.com. If you think that you may have a case of need advice, you can give them a call at 420-3137