Louisiana to toughen treatment of rule breakers?

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Officials in Louisiana are looking for recommendations on how to handle nursing facilities that commit violations.

A working group of about 20 people from inside and outside the state government will look at how Louisiana's regulatory system compares to other states'. It will examine whether stronger penalties would improve the quality of care in nursing homes and other programs for the elderly and disabled.

New statistics reveal that nursing homes in the state are less likely to be fined for breaking the rules than facilities in other Southern states. Over the past four years, Louisiana's 309 nursing homes were issued a total of $1.2 million in state and federal fines. Federal regulators imposed $220,000 in fines on Louisiana operators.

By comparison, Mississippi's 204 nursing homes were slapped with nearly $3 million in federal penalties over the same time period, and Texas's 1,137 homes were fined $7.4 million.