Finding the right nursing home or long-term care facility for a loved one can be difficult and stressful. You want a safe and clean facility. You want the nursing home staff to be respectful and friendly. You want to be able to quickly access information about facilities that might have a history of nursing home abuse and neglect.
Unfortunately, the state of Georgia does not make it easy for families to identify the worst nursing homes and long-term care facilities. According to a report from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia had eight years to post information online that would help families avoid troubled nursing homes. But as the Jan. 1 deadline required by the Affordable Care Act was approaching, the newspaper reported that the Georgia Department of Community Health’s website was lacking the required records. In fact, Georgia is one of the last states to comply with the requirements of the ACA.
In its investigative piece, the AJC found that the information the website had posted about nursing homes was out of date or lacking important details. In some cases, visitors to the website would find only the capacity of a care home, the administrator’s name and directions to the nursing home, with no health- or safety-related information at all.
States are required to include enforcement records for most nursing homes
The Affordable Care Act requires each state to include on an official website enforcement records for every nursing home that accepts Medicare or Medicaid. Such records include inspection reports, investigations into complaints and plans of correction.
In response to the AJC report, a representative of the Georgia Department of Community Health said the website lacked required information due to “technical difficulties.” The state spokesman suggested they were working on website improvements which would not be ready until the summer.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) oversees the Medicare program and works with states to administer the Medicaid program. While ignoring the website requirement could result in Medicare and Medicaid funds being withheld from Georgia, the CMS may not make a priority of enforcing Obama-era regulations in the “deregulation climate created by President Trump,” according to the AJC.
According to the AJC, the CMS recently has made industry-friendly decisions. For example, nursing homes can force families to sign binding arbitration agreements that would shield them from lawsuits alleging abuse, sexual assault or neglect.
Additionally, the nursing home lobby makes significant donations to candidates and political parties in Georgia, which means lawmakers may be less than enthusiastic about ensuring nursing homes and long-term care facilities comply with regulations.
Sadly, the deck is stacked against families who simply want the best care possible for their loved ones. Georgia’s delay in posting inspection and investigation records about nursing homes creates a significant burden on families who need access to such important information. Families have a right to know if a facility they’re considering for their loved one has a history of abuse or neglect.
If your loved one was abused, neglected, assaulted or over-medicated in a nursing home or long-term care facility, you have a right to demand justice. Contact the Law Office of George S. Johnson, LLC for a free consultation. Attorney Johnson fights aggressively on behalf of his clients.