misha maslennikov / Flickr Shut eye in a nursing home...
misha maslennikov / Flickr

The American Health Care Association have squeaked in just in time to be put on the nominations list for the worst people in the universe. The ink was barely dry on the electoral college certification of last year’s election before they were lobbying Trump to ease regulations designed to protect elderly patients. They were granted their wish this week.

The shift in the Medicare program’s penalty protocols was requested by the nursing home industry. The American Health Care Association, the industry’s main trade group, has complained that under President Barack Obama, federal inspectors focused excessively on catching wrongdoing rather than helping nursing homes improve.

“It is critical that we have relief,” Mark Parkinson, the group’s president, wrote in a letter to Mr. Trump in December 2016.

Since 2013, nearly 6,500 nursing homes—four of every 10—have been cited at least once for a serious violation, federal records show. Medicare has fined two-thirds of those homes. Common citations include failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores.

The new guidelines discourage regulators from levying fines in some situations, even when they have resulted in a resident’s death. The guidelines will also probably result in lower fines for many facilities.

In the words of Toby Edelman, a senior attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, “They’ve pretty much emasculated enforcement, which was already weak.” This is after Congress, just last year!, increased the fines regulators could levy to keep up with inflation. Because even the Republican Congress, in 2016, recognized that protecting nursing home patients is something the government really should be doing. The Congress of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

This follows the administration’s reversal of another Obama administrative action that banned nursing homes from requiring that residents pre-emptively give up their right to sue a nursing home over their care, and be forced into arbitration instead. So now the federal government isn’t looking out for nursing home patients with effective tools, and patients and families don’t even have the recourse of the courts. All this in the name of cutting useless regulations and allowing providers more “quality time with their patients.” As if the main problem in long-term care facilities is not enough bonding time between residents and staff.

If hell exists, Satan’s going to have to be evicting the place to make room for Trump, everyone in his administration, all the Republicans who are enabling him, and all the deplorables who voted for him. Or maybe they’ll just all end up in unregulated nursing homes and will discover their hell on this earth.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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