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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com

A nursing home can abuse an elderly resident to the point of death and not be subject to a fine, thanks to the Trump administration.

Reacting to the demands of lobbyists, the Trump administration has struck down several regulations that have governed the nursing home industry. The New York Times reports that this now means several common citations that used to result in fines will either see reduced penalties or no penalties at all.

These citations have included “failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores.” Americans can now know that their grandparents, parents, or great-grandparents can be neglected and abused without the government exercising oversight.

Toby Edelman, a senior attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, told the Times, “They’ve pretty much emasculated enforcement, which was already weak.”

The fines, designed to prod nursing homes into treating elderly Americans with more care, respect, and dignity, were put in place by President Barack Obama and sought to make the institutions answerable to standards put together by Medicare.

Between 2013 and this year, 6,500 nursing homes — 4 out of every 10 — have been cited for serious violations. Under the Obama policies, two-thirds of those homes were fined.

In his eagerness to undo as many regulations as possible, regardless of consequence, Donald Trump has thrown those policies out the window after the lobbyists for companies that operate the homes got the ear of his administration. A memo from the Trump administration referred to these fines as penalizing a “one-time mistake.” Even if that “one-time mistake” killed someone’s grandmother.

The Times notes one nursing home where the failure to monitor and treat a patient’s wound led to a pain-medication pump slipping through a ruptured suture, protruding from her abdomen. Under the Obama rules, the nursing home at fault — Lincoln Manor in Illinois — was fined $282,954. Under Trump, the home where a person died because of neglect would be fined less than $21,000.

This sets up a perverse incentive system that tells nursing homes they can abuse and neglect human beings up to and including death and still be exempt from many, if not all, fines.

Callous treatment of the most vulnerable in society is abhorrent and cruel. But it’s just another day with Trump.

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