'Bill of rights' for LTC residents a scheme to boost personal injury firm, group claims

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A recently proposed “bill of rights” to protect Florida long-term care residents is a thinly-veiled attempt to drive business for a personal injury law firm, according to one seniors advocacy group.

The bill of rights, proposed by Florida Constitution Revision Commission member Brecht Heuchan earlier this month, was quickly slammed by the Florida Health Care Association as “glaringly bad” move that would “only serve the interests of greedy trial attorneys who continually attempt to cash in by suing nursing homes.”

The American Senior Alliance, an associate member of FHCA, agreed, lodging an ethics complaint against Heuchan last week. The complaint calls out out Heuchan's role as a lobbyist for Wilkes & McHugh, a personal injury law firm.

“There is legitimate room for discussion about what belongs in the Constitution and what doesn't, and which regulations are right for nursing homes and which aren't,” wrote ASA Executive Director Conwell Hooper. “But there is no place in the constitutional review process for special interest proposals designed to boost the bottom line of one law firm.”

ASA's complaint calls on the state's Commission on Ethics to “halt” the bill of rights from moving forward, since it “would make it far easier for law firms to sue nursing homes.”

Kristen Knapp, spokeswoman for FHCA, told Florida Politics the group has spoken with Hooper about the proposal, and believes ASA “is raising valid concerns.”

Heuchan, in a response, said the Georgia-based ASA “appears to be a shill for whatever industry is paying him.”