Deregulated Under Trump, Nursing Homes are Becoming COVID Morgues

Truthout: Deregulated Under Trump, Nursing Homes are Becoming COVID Morgues (July 14, 2020)

As of late June, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that the number of COVID-19 infections among nursing-home residents had exceeded 126,402 nationwide, in addition to about 78,692 suspected cases and 35,517 deaths — though CMS admits its data is incomplete, as the data reporting only goes back to mid-May, and not all facilities have been consistently reporting data. With proper infection controls, testing, and PPE, this tragedy could have been avoided, yet under the Trump Administration, long-term care facilities have been steadily deregulated. At the same time, state and federal officials are quietly working to grant legal immunity from wrongful death suits to health care facilities. Justice in Aging Directing Attorney, Eric Carlson argued that nursing homes do not need such broad immunity because courts would generally take the pandemic into account when weighing, for example, wrongful death lawsuits. By contrast, under blanket immunity, “providers wouldn’t be responsible, regardless of the facts — regardless of the short staffing, regardless of the poor management, and regardless of the poor care that might be provided,” Carlson says. “And this is not the time when we want to do anything to excuse poor care, because we need better care during this time, not worse care.”

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