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Nursing Home Corporations Continue Their Effort To Reduce Access To Justice For Victims Of Abuse

May 19, 2020
Author: Jeremy Fietz

Despite terrible neglect at nursing homes being at an all-time high nationwide the nursing homes (and their giant insurance companies) want a free pass for abuse.

Their high priced lobbyists are at it on a nationwide level and here in California. They claim that they should be given immunity from any lawsuits even if they are guilty of neglecting an elder! As a general rule, Republican policiticians have always been more in favor of big pharma and large corporations having immunity while Democratic politicians have been more likely to preserve access to justice if a corporation has victimized a vulnerable senior. There is nothing new there. Big pharma and big insurance has been lobbying congress at the state and federal level for years, chipping away at justice – making it harder for victims to be heard. See: Apple News.

During times of crisis, however, it is more likely that these large corporate interests are successful. It is an easier “sell” to claim that we have to protect front line health workers from “frivolous lawsuits”. On the surface that sounds good. But wait, how open to frivolous lawsuits do you think juries will be? Won’t the nursing homes and the hospitals already get “the benefit of the doubt” for whatever happens during crisis? Moreover, except at very few locations in New York there is no overburdened “crisis”. Even in New York, victims advocates warn that immunizing nursing homes will result in less accountability and less care for the vulnerable at a time when it is needed most.

In California, where there are relatively few Covid19 cases the nursing home industry is trying to squeeze themselves into new laws providing them with immunity. See here.

Should a nursing home be considered in the same way an ICU at a hospital is? Of course not. Nursing homes send critically ill residents to the hospital for care. Immunizing nursing homes from responsibility for neglect is going to make care worse, not better.

Nonetheless, insurance companies and big corporations see this pandemic as a chance to snatch more rights away from the victims of abuse and neglect. They see this as a chance to immunize their “profits before people” mission. Unfortunately, big corporations do not “do the right thing” on their own. They make decisions based on profit. If neglect of an elder goes without punishment, they will not enact the protections that elders need right now. It is now, more than ever, that we must stand vigilant to protect the rights of victims and their families.

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