Nursing Homes’ Multi-Million Dollar Lobbying Machine Gets To Work On Liability Protections

The industry is vigorously seeking protection from lawsuits that will likely stem from the wave of deaths in nursing homes across the country. But advocates urge lawmakers not to protect nursing homes were neglect and understaffing were big problems even before the pandemic. In other news: how warnings about overrun hospitals put nursing home patients at risk; the White House fails to meet its goal on nursing home testing; a veterans' home that had chronic issues to begin with; and a national reckoning.

Politico: As Residents Perish, Nursing Homes Fight For Protection From Lawsuits As an unprecedented catastrophe unfolds in which more than 28,000 people have died of Covid-19 in care facilities, the nursing home industry is responding with an unprecedented action of its own: Using its multi-million dollar lobbying machine to secure protections from liability in lawsuits. At least 20 states have swiftly taken action within the last two and a half months to limit the legal exposure of the politically powerful nursing home industry, which risks huge losses if families of coronavirus victims successfully sue facilities hit by the pandemic. Now, the industry is turning its energies to obtaining nationwide protections from Congress in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill. (Severns and Roubein, 5/26)

Politico: Warnings Of Overrun Hospitals Put Nursing Homes At Risk, Health Official SaysWarnings of overrun hospitals were "an error" that resulted in the spread of coronavirus in nursing homes, and those who issued them should face "some accountability," AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson said Sunday. "The country was too concerned with hospitals being overrun, and there were consequences to that," Parkinson, a former Kansas governor and the current president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "One of the consequences is that nursing homes were left out. Our residents weren't a high priority for testing. We weren't given the equipment that we needed." (Mueller, 5/24)

The Associated Press: White House Goal On Testing Nursing Homes UnmetNearly two weeks ago the White House urged governors to ensure that every nursing home resident and staff member be tested for the coronavirus within 14 days. It’s not going to happen. A review by The Associated Press found that at least half of the states are not going to meet White House’s deadline and some aren’t even bothering to try. Only a handful of states, including West Virginia and Rhode Island, have said they’ve already tested every nursing home resident. (Suderman, 5/25)

The Washington Post: In A Veterans’ Home Hit By The Coronavirus, Chronic Problems Aided A DisasterDonald Bushey rarely talked about his military service. The Air Force veteran served for 14 years, including one in the Vietnam War, but he preferred to focus on hunting, fishing and his other passions. His military service, however, provided a lifeline to his family in recent years. As a veteran, Bushey qualified for a spot in the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, a state-run facility in western Massachusetts. Bushey’s placement in the home in January 2019 eased some of the pressure on his wife of 63 years, Jean, and their six children after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and suffered a stroke, one of their daughters said. (Lamothe, 5/24)

ABC News: As Nation Tries To Exhale, Coronavirus Still Carrying Infection, Death Into Nursing Homes, Data ShowWith over 37,600 deaths, nursing home fatalities now account for nearly 40% of deaths from the novel coronavirus in the U.S., according to an ABC News analysis of the latest public health data. In at least 18 states, nursing home deaths account for over 50% of coronavirus-related deaths, placing a continued stress on the infrastructure for American elder care even as much of the nation tries to return to some sense of normalcy. (Mosk, Rubin, Pecorin and Freger, 5/26)

And in global news —

The New York Times: On A Scottish Isle, Nursing Home Deaths Expose A Covid-19 Scandal On the Isle of Skye off the western coast of Scotland, residents thought they had sealed themselves off from the coronavirus. They shuttered hotels. Officials warned of police checks. Traffic emptied on the only bridge from the mainland. But the frailest spot on the island remained catastrophically exposed: Home Farm, a 40-bed nursing home for people with dementia. Owned by a private equity firm, Home Farm has become a grim monument of the push to maximize profits at Britain’s largest nursing home chains, and of the government’s failure to protect its most vulnerable citizens. (Mueller, 5/25)