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.

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