Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Has Led To Health Coverage For Millions More People
President Obama’s healthcare law, despite a rocky rollout and determined opposition from critics, already has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century, national surveys and enrollment data show. As the law’s initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Some have done so through marketplaces created by the law, some through other private insurance and others through Medicaid, which has expanded under the law in about half the states. The tally draws from a review of state and federal enrollment reports, surveys and interviews with insurance executives and government officials nationwide (Levey, 3/30).

 

MLive.com reported that former director of nursing, Darren Coggins, will receive $100,000 after reaching a settlement agreement with his former employer Heartland Employment Services.  Coggins was fired after complaining about understaffing and other unsafe conditions at the facility that put elderly residents at risk of injury.  The facility’s management retaliated against Coggins by firing him after he called for the facility to hire more employees and fix its security protocols.

Coggins served as the nursing director at Heartland Health Care Center-Fostrian from January 2011 to September 2012, but his employment was terminated after two patients were able leave the facility by circumventing its security system.  The facility used Coggins as a "scapegoat" and that it violated multiple state statutes, including the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Records show a developmentally-disabled resident was able to leave the building Feb. 4, 2012, despite wearing a device that was intended to alert staff in such a situation, by leaving through an alarmed door on the building. The door alarm sounded as the resident left but another resident, who was given the code to the door by nursing staff so he could smoke outside the facility unsupervised, deactivated the alarm. Staff found the resident alone in the facility’s parking lot.

A second resident was able to leave the facility Aug. 21, 2012, less than three weeks after an annual survey by the state revealed more than a dozen areas of concern at the facility. The state Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Bureau of Health Systems cited the facility for seven violations.
In that second incident, a wheelchair-bound resident with a history of dementia was found by a housekeeper in the facility’s parking lot, despite also wearing a device to alert staff, after someone on the nursing staff disabled the alarm system.

 

 

Two investment brokers and their associates are facing charges for stealing nursing home residents’ personal information to perpetrate annuities fraud, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced. A $4.5 million settlement has been reached with some of the parties.

Brokers Michael A. Horowitz of Los Angeles and Moshe Marc Cohen of New York City created the illegal scheme. They allegedly stole identification information from nursing home residents through a fake charity, and used that information to get insurance companies to issue variable annuities. These are investment vehicles that pay out a death benefit to a beneficiary when the holder dies.

Horowitz and Cohen sold the annuities to wealthy investors with the understanding that the annuity holders would soon die and the investors would collect the death benefit. The brokers made more than $1 million in commissions. They allegedly brought in commodities trader Howard Feder, who helped them facilitate institutional investments in the fraudulent annuities through the auspices of BDL Manager LLC.

As part of an overall $4.5 million settlement, BDL agreed to pay disgorgement and a penalty totaling about $3 million. Feder agreed to pay a $130,000 penalty. Individuals who were charged with helping obtain the nursing home residents’ information also agreed to penalties.

 

Police say they arrested, Jean Belimarie, a nursing assistant at a Brockton nursing home on a charge of raping an elderly patient.  Belimarie was working as a certified nursing assistant at the Champion Rehabilitation and Health Center.  Police said the rape was investigated after family members of the victim, an elderly patient, reported the incident.  See full article at The Enterprise.

 

The Sacramento Bee reported that Florida’s Supreme Court declared that arbitrary limits on medical and nursing negligence cases were unconstitutional.  This is a big win for the people of Florida and the 7th Amendment to the Constitution.  Florida law capped doctors’ liability for non-economic damages at $500,000 in most malpractice cases and $1 million in cases involving deaths. In a 5-2 decision, the court said the caps in such cases violate the equal protection guarantee in the state’s constitution. Florida becomes at least the seventh state to declare medical malpractice award limits unconstitutional.

"The cap on non-economic damages serves no purpose other than to arbitrarily punish the most grievously injured or their surviving family members," the court wrote.   The case involved a lawsuit filed against the federal government by the parents of Michelle McCall, who died after giving birth in 2006 while being treated by U.S. Air Force doctors at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. A jury awarded her parents and son $2 million, but a federal court lowered the award to $1 million, citing the state law.

Non-economic damages are for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other things. Economic awards, which have no cap, refer to lost wages or medical costs.  Of course, children and elderly victims of malpractice have little lost wages.

 

 

The Times-News had an interesting article on the recent OIG report finding that one in three nursing home patients were harmed by medication errors, infections or injuries. Doctors who reviewed the report for a news organization, almost six in 10 cases were preventable. "For anyone who has ever had a loved one in a nursing home or is contemplating that possibility, this should be pretty terrifying."

"What that means seems obvious: With a little effort, better training and well-followed procedures, many of those patients wouldn’t have had to suffer additional treatment or re-hospitalization. Pro Publica, a nonprofit journalism website that specializes in investigative reporting, ran a story outlining some of the more salient findings and talked to doctors about what it all means. In short, we’re not doing a very good job when it comes to ensuring the safety and care of our frailest residents."

"This study found that the odds are even worse in nursing homes. Many of these errors are the result of understaffing, inadequate training, negligence and lack of or failure to follow procedures."

Medical experts insist it is possible to reduce the number of preventable injuries and infections in nursing homes. It should be a priority, because doing so is good for the patient, their families, the nursing home and the taxpayers. Preventable accidents, medical mistakes and infections affect more than the patient; they cost our entire health care system by necessitating expensive additional treatment and readmission to the hospital. The study estimated that preventable injuries cost Medicare and patients about $208 million in that single month. Over a year’s time that’s almost $2.5 billion.
 

Unfortunately, the powerful nursing home industry has influenced members of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee to block the bill that would allow family members to monitor and protect the care and treatment provided to nursing home residents.  If passed, patients could purchase and install the equipment to allow family members to monitor them, but it’s received opposition from the $115 billion dollar nursing home industry. The excuses from the opponents of the bill were ridiculous.

The first excuse was that it would violate resident’s privacy.  This is a red herring.  The video camera would only be allowed to record a resident who agreed to be recorded.  No privacy issues exist.

The second excuse is that the government should not "interfere" with a private business.  This is ridiculous.  The "private" business is paid for with taxpayer money.  The bill would make sure that those taxpayer funds were being used properly.  About 70 percent of nursing home residents are covered through Medicaid or Medicare

Sen. Shane Martin, R-Pauline, argued the government shouldn’t force a private business to do anything. Really?  The government is not forcing nursing homes to put video cameras in resident’s rooms. Rather, this bill allows residents and their families to put video cameras in their own rooms at their own cost.  The bill does not force businesses to do anything.

The third excuse is that a resident can choose another facility that allows video cameras.  Martin argued "There’s nothing barring the facilities from allowing it now, so if one nursing home denies the request, the family should just choose another, he said.  But Sen. Thomas Alexander said that’s often not possible, as families are limited in their choices."In my area, all the beds stay full. It’s not as simple as taking a loved one from one facility to another," said Alexander, R-Walhalla. Additionally, Martin assumes there is some facility that would allow it.  However, without this bill, no SC facility would allow video cameras voluntarily.

The fourth ridiculous excuse was that this bill would somehow discriminate against poor people on Medicaid.  Sen. Floyd Nicholson, D-Greenwood, questioned whether making it an option funded by families essentially discriminated against residents whose stay is covered by Medicaid, because they couldn’t afford the cost.  So Nicholson would rather discriminate against residents and families who can afford to place a video camera?  The cost of a placing a video camera is nominal.

Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said he wishes the nursing home industry didn’t take such offense to the bill."They are concerned this is a ploy to catch them doing bad things to patients. That’s not what this is about. This is empowering families to take care of loved ones," he said. However, he added, "Generally, people with cameras on them behave better."

Its sponsor, Sen. Paul Thurmond, said families should have the opportunity to check in on loved ones to ensure they’re not being abused or neglected.

The nursing home "king" of Arkansas (Michael Morton) has set up multiple channels by which money was funneled to previously discussed Mike Maggio.  Interestingly, about $18,000 on the day the jury verdict for abuse and neglect was arbitrarily reduced from $5.2 million to $1 million.  See full story at Blue Hog Report.

 

In February 2012, Estate of Martha Bull v. Greenbrier Care Center, Central Arkansas Nursing Center, and Michael Morton was filed in Faulkner County and was assigned to Judge Maggio. Morton is the owner of Greenbrier Care Center d/b/a Greenbrier Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, as well as Central Arkansas Nursing Center and many, many other nursing-home facilities.

The complaint alleged that Martha Bull, aged 76, had died at the nursing home on April 7, 2008, due to neglect and negligence on the part of Greenbrier Care Center staff. Because Greenbrier was managed by Central Arkansas Nursing, which was in turn owned by Morton, the complaint argued that Central Arkansas Nursing and Morton were also vicariously liable for the death of Ms. Bull. On April 19, 2013, Maggio entered orders that dismissed Morton and Central Arkansas Nursing from the suit.

At trial, the jury heard testimony and saw evidence of neglect and abuse that caused the resident’s death. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Ms. Bull’s estate and awarded the estate $5.2 million on May 8, 2013. The order was entered on June 6, 2013.

On July 8, 2013, Judge Maggio granted Greenbrier Care Center’s motion for a remittitur hearing, because he found that the $5.2M award against the nursing home “shock[ed] the conscience of the court. Also occurring on July 8, 2013?

•Sherwood Nursing (owned by Morton) contributed $3,000 to GO Good Government PAC. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $2,000 to Maggio on December 5, 2013, and $250 on January 28, 2014.

•MSM Properties, Inc. (owned by Morton) contributed $3,000 to Thomas Group In PAC. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $2,000 to Maggio on December 5, 2013, and $250 on January 28, 2014.

•Quapaw Care & Rehabilitation Center (owned by Morton) contributed $3,000 to Judicial Reform PAC / Citizens for Judicial Reform. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $500 to Maggio on December 31, 2013, and $1,000 on January 28, 2014.

•Briarwood Nursing (owned by Morton) contributed $3,000 to Citizens for Information Technology PAC. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $1,450 to Maggio on January 28, 2014.

•Central Arkansas Nursing Centers (owned by Morton, and previously a defendant in the case above) contributed $3,000 to DBH 2 PAC. That PAC was registered (late) by Chris Stewart on August 8, 2013, and the PAC donated $2,000 to Maggio on December 5, 2013, and $1,000 on January 28, 2014.

•Michael Morton contributed $3,000 to Conservative Persons in PAC. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $500 to Maggio on December 31, 2013, and $1,000 on January 28, 2014.

•Good Shephard (owned by Morton) contributed $3,000 to Taxpayers for Change PAC. That PAC was registered by Chris Stewart on July 31, 2013, and the PAC donated $1,000 to Maggio on — wait for it — January 28, 2014.

Seven PACs, none of which existed prior to July 31, 2013, and all of which received the same amount of money from Michael Morton (or a Morton-owned entity) on the exact same date, which also happens to be the date that Maggio agreed to a remittitur hearing, some 32 days after the order was entered.  And, most damning, the PACs all gave money directly to Maggio on the same dates. Five of the seven gave money only to Maggio, and a sixth gave only $250 to one other candidate.

It appears that Mike Maggio let Michael Morton buy his way out of full responsibility for the death of Martha Bull for less than one cent on the dollar.

The real reason Maggio reduced the jury award to $1M was because Morton carried $1M in insurance coverage, so a $1M award wouldn’t actually cost Morton anything. Which means that Morton was apparently able to remove any personal liability in the case for the low, low price of $21,000. If that doesn’t make you angry, you aren’t paying attention.

 And what is even MORE interesting….following this money trail has led us to a land where the nursing home industry appears to be trying to buy influence in courts. There’s $100,000 accounted for in donations from Michael Morton/nursing home entities to a three Supreme Court judges/candidates and one Court of Appeals candidate. See article in the Arkansas Times.

Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne has recently reported $7,000 from Morton’s companies and $7,000 from entities under Victoria Healthcare Inc., owned by Joshua and Ken Kilgore.

Associate Justice Karen Baker of the Supreme Court is another recipient of about $18,000 in nursing home industry money that links back to Morton.

Past Circuit Judge Rhonda Wood, of Conway, who now sits on the Court of Appeals and is running unopposed for the Supreme Court, has recently reported more than $60,000 in campaign contributions from entities linked to Reliance Healthcare Management and Morton.

 

 

 

Remember Judge Mike Maggio?  We wrote about him last July after he negated a unanimous jury verdict.  He declared that the jury’s judgment of $5.2 million was excessive, and arbitrarily reduced it to $1 million.  Well, he is back in the news for racist, sexist, and bigoted comments on blogs.

For example, Judge Maggio wrote that if you have gay sex, then it is just a “small step” to sex with a dog and “Sluts are just whores in training.”  Women shouldn’t make an “emotional decision to divorce because the husband stepped out” if he was a “good provider.”  Those are just some of the writings uncovered after the Arkansas blog Blue Hog Report discovered that an pseudonymous commenter on a message board for Louisiana State University fans was sitting Arkansas state Judge Mike Maggio. Judge Maggio, who posted under the username “geauxjudge” offered questionable views on race, sexuality, women and many other issues.

Maggio’s most disturbing statement, however, may be a description of something called “Rodeo sex,” which appears to be when man tries to physically force a woman to continue having sex with him after he has said something to her that causes her to withdraw her consent.

How can he still be a judge after the people of Arkansas discover his views on race, sex, and homosexuality?

A nursing home in Iowa was only fined $2,150 while mismanaging the care of a registered sex offender and placing the community of residents at risk.  Facilities should put in place measures to protect the safety of innocent residents and their visitors.

The 80 year old man was supposed to be closely monitored. The staff was under orders to check on him every half hour at least.  When he was stopped from approaching a young boy who was there to visit, the facility should have doubled down on precautions. Instead, since they were fined for not adhering to their plan, they just changed the plan, eliminating the precautions, so that they wouldn’t be violating it by failing to monitor the sexual predator.

Unsurprisingly, his behavior did not stop. He was found in bed with another resident. This time the facility decided to change his room and restart the twice an hour checks. When a state inspector came by however, the new room was adjacent to his alleged victim’s. The director of nursing even admitted that he had made several attempts to enter it. A better solution may be needed to separate the sheep from the wolves, and keep sex offenders and violent criminals away from the vulnerable populations inside long-term care facilities.

Until then, facilities must make do with the tools available to keep everyone safe. This facility obviously failed that test, and jeopardized the well-being of their residents by giving this known sex offender access to his victims and failing to properly monitor and restrain him.  See article at Newton Daily.