Brian Lee is the executive director of Families for Better Care, a national nursing home watchdog group. He wrote the below editorial about Florida’s Proposal 88.
“Once again, the nursing home lobbyists have strapped up their boots, donned their black hats, and rode out on their trusty steeds to make quick work of Public Enemy No 1.
Just what’s this foreboding menace looming over their horizon? Why it’s none other than Proposal 88.
Proposal 88, now before Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission, would brand an elderly Bill of Rights directly into the DNA of the state’s constitution, guaranteeing the protection of our parents’ and grandparents’ civil and legal rights, especially when they move into a nursing home.
To nursing home owners, shareholders and their lobbyists, Proposal 88 represents everything that is evil in this world, for it poses the most serious, the gravest threat to their empire’s very way of life — giving nursing home residents equal footing under the law.
You see, if your mom or dad moves into a nursing home right now, your parent immediately becomes an excluded class of citizen, afforded a slate of diminished rights that benefit not your mom or dad, but greedy nursing home companies that put outlandish profits ahead your loved ones’ care and safety.
Now, you have to know, the nursing home lobbyists are highly skilled operatives, who’ve repeatedly taken out similar threatening proposals in the past. A fast draw of their diamond-studded checkbook in one hand, a point and click of their Mont Blanc in the other, and voila, their problems disappear.
But Proposal 88 is different, and they know it.
Because if the 2016 elections proved anything, it’s that Americans are sick and tired of the status quo.
A dust off of Proposal 88’s analysis by The Florida Bar shows a glut of nursing homes that have become awash in “routine violations of rights by facilities, administrators and employees” resulting in a “parade of grim and tragic” cases. Care in some facilities has become so bad that “20 percent of residents in assisted living and nursing home facilities” are now “subject to abuse, neglect and exploitation.”
A few of the more “alarming” incidents referenced in the Proposal 88 analysis include “employees videoing themselves assaulting and humiliating vulnerable residents,” theft of the “meager belongings of residents,” residents living in “severely unsanitary conditions,” dismissed “claims of sexual assault despite evidence,” and the “death of 12 residents in the Rehabilitation Center in Hollywood Hills” following Hurricane Irma.
Quite simply, too many nursing homes aren’t a bed of roses.
But the hardened band of nursing home lobbyists, circling wagons to bat down these difficult truths, would argue everything is fine, residents don’t have problems, it’s actually the providers for whom we should feel sorry. Claiming to be underpaid and overburdened with regulations. Right.
The fact is, nursing homes have gotten wealthy off the bedsore-ridden backs of our loved ones. Proposal 88 would change that dynamic by ensuring residents’ constitutional right to safe living in a nursing home.
And with a new poll showing 86 percent of Floridians now supporting the elderly having a nursing home Bill of Rights enumerated in the state’s constitution, nursing home owners and their lobbyists should brace themselves.
Soon, there will be a new sheriff in town.