New rule hindering suits against nursing homes goes unnoticed

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A recent article in The Washington Post sheds light on a quietly enacted last-minute Bush policy that hinders the prosecution of cases against nursing homes.

The rule was passed without any public notification last September, according to the paper. It turns Medicare and Medicaid contractors into federal employees, making them exempt from having to provide evidence during private lawsuits, according to the Post. As a result, residents, families and lawyers who file suit against a nursing home find their ability to gather evidence against the facility severely hampered.

Critics of the law say it allows bad nursing home practices to continue in secret. A Bush administration paper accompanying the law argues that such lawsuits "divert employees from their federal survey, certification and enforcement responsibilities," reports the Post.