Florida healthcare executives and their corporate lobbyists are fighting hard against a proposal to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Brecht Heuchan, a lawyer and political consultant who is a member of Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission, wants to add a “nursing home residents bill of rights” to the state constitution.
The amendment would go before the voters in November if commissioners approve the measure.
Heuchan wrote in a recent column that the bill of rights would provide basic protections for Florida seniors in long-term care. “Residents of long-term care facilities would have the right to be treated courteously, fairly, and with dignity. They would have the right to adequate and appropriate health care that puts their needs and best interest first,” he said. “Residents would have the right to safe, clean, and comfortable living conditions and the right to insist the government does its part to safeguard their welfare. They would have the right to require facilities get meaningful insurance in case something goes wrong. And in the terrible event of abuse, neglect, or death, residents or their heirs would have the right to identify who is ultimately responsible for their harm and hold them accountable.”
Healthcare Lobbyists Attack
It’s that last part — accountability — that has owners of nursing homes waging an all-out assault on the amendment.
The Florida Health Care Association (FHCA) is the political muscle that lobbies Tallahassee on behalf of healthcare companies. The group would rather that injured, neglected or abused nursing home residents not have access to the courts. They had one of their “associate members,” the American Senior Alliance, file an ethics complaint against Heuchan. Then, Emmet Reed, Executive Director of the FHCA wrote a scathing column questioning Heuchan’s motives and integrity. Reed and the FHCA would rather that nursing home residents give up their right to sue altogether. The recent trend in long-term care is to have residents unwittingly sign arbitration agreements when they enter a nursing home. Victims of nursing home abuse and negligence are left to the not-so-tender mercies of a generally pro-industry arbitration panel.
The governor has yet to weigh in, but the proposal does have backers. The Orlando Sentinal editorial board supports the nursing home residents bill of rights. There’s no reason “for allowing the industry to continue to try to close the courthouse doors,” the editors said.
If nursing home negligence has harmed someone you love, contact Martinez Manglardi. Call our Florida nursing home abuse and neglect injury lawyers today at 407-846-2240. Free consultation.