Sen. Bill Stanley (R)
Virginia — State Sen. Bill Stanley (R) has introduced a bill requiring that nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other certified nursing facilities obtain minimum levels of insurance.
If SB70 becomes law, affected facilities would have to maintain liability coverage of at least $1 million, and have levels of professional liability insurance defined by the state's medical malpractice caps.
Stanley authored the legislation after learning of nursing homes unable to compensate victims of criminal negligence and abuse for their injuries and losses, according to local reports. One incident involved a resident who was fatally assaulted by another resident, whom a court determined was not properly segregated. The facility carried only $100,000 in insurance, and most insurance payouts covered legal fees.
As of press time, the Virginia Senate had passed the bill, and Sen. Stanley's office said the House of Delegates was likely to take action on it within weeks.
$2.75M in fraud alleged
Florida — The leaders of a nursing home management company allegedly defrauded Medicaid of more than $2.75 million.
From 2006-2012, Council on Aging in Florida CEO Maxcine Darville and her daughter, assistant CEO Joanne Carter, misused Medicaid funds for personal expenses, including mortgage payments, according to the state attorney general's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. A Palm Beach Post investigation found Darville's compensation reached $404,000 a year.
The company is unrelated to the non-profit seniors advocacy group called the Florida Council on Aging.
Released on bond, the women deny the charges. The women each face the possibility of 30 years in prison and $10,000
Dementia training for cops
Indiana — The state's House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill calling for police officer training on how to respond to individuals with Alzheimer's disease or senile dementia.
Rep. Bill Friend (R) introduced the bill after a June 2012 incident in which a 64-year-old man with Alzheimer's was tased five times by a police officer. The victim, a resident of a Peru, IN, nursing home, reportedly refused to get into an ambulance as directed and became combative. The officer was later fired for using excessive force.
The six hours of training called for in the bill would be part of a mandatory annual in-service program.
“This bill will help law enforcement officers take
proper action,” Friend said.
Operators prep for audit
Pennsylvania — Nursing homes in three counties are preparing for a comprehensive Department of Public Welfare (DPW) audit covering four years of Medicaid payments.
The audit will affect 75 facilities in Chester, Delaware and Philadelphia counties. The three largest operators in this region by 2011 Medicaid revenue are the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Fair Acres Geriatric Center and Genesis HealthCare, according to numbers from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The DPW audit places a substantial burden on operators, nursing home professionals told local news outlets.
Auditors expect to recover about 0.3% of Medicaid payouts in the 2008-2012 audit period, the Inquirer estimated.
The DPW audit will not look at underpayments.
Guilty providers to pay
Idaho — The state's House of Representatives has approved a bill granting a state board the power to make nursing home operators pay investigation costs if they are found guilty of violations.
The House voted after a committee heard testimony from Roger Hales of the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses, according to local reports.
If HB 36 becomes law, the Idaho Board of Nursing Administrators also will be able to fine operators up to $1,000. Rep. John Vander Woude (R) reportedly asked Hale why the board would need to levy the fines, to which Hale said the board “just felt it would be appropriate to have the authority to assess fines.” Hale noted regulatory boards commonly can collect monetary penalties.
Committee members had some apprehension about potential loopholes and vague language, but Rep. Luke Malek (R) told a reporter he does not think the bill's provisions would make it “more difficult, or more risky” to operate nursing homes in Idaho.
Oil boom pressures wages
North Dakota — Nursing homes in the western part of the state face challenges as a booming regional economy creates stiff competition for workers.
In the so-called Oil Patch, long-term care facilities have seen budgets eaten up by the rising cost of labor, as they try to remain on par with thriving local businesses that can afford high pay rates, according to local reports. The pressure on wages led to the December closure of a 110-bed facility in Williston. A continuing care center in Sanford is scheduled to be shuttered March 15.