Is It True Nursing Homes Don’t Carry Liability Insurance?
It is true that many Florida nursing homes allow seniors to be abused, neglected, or even exploited. Each year, thousands of Floridians living in nursing homes suffer serious injuries caused by neglect. At Roman & Roman, P.A., we think nursing home owners should be held accountable for their neglect. Our Clearwater nursing home abuse lawyers stand ready to defend the rights of seniors throughout our state. Sadly, many nursing homes go completely uninsured. If you are wondering how this is possible, it’s worth taking a look at the history of the nursing home industry.
Nursing Home Liability Since 1987
In 1987, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) passed Congress, which mandated certain minimum standards for nursing home care on a national level. This nursing home reform law brought about sweeping changes in policy and brought about significant changes in almost every state.
Florida, like all states, was required to empower a state agency to track and monitor quality of care. The Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) was tasked with those oversight duties. There are several key duties delegated to AHCA:
- Promulgating rules and administrative regulations pertaining to nursing homes
- Enforcing administrative regulations
- Performing annual and complaint-based surveys
- Citing deficient nursing homes for violations
Attempts to Mandate Nursing Home Insurance
Since 1987, states all over the country have attempted to force the nursing home industry to maintain liability insurance in order to ensure some accountability. Some states allow lawsuits directly against the owners and their corporate shells. Some states have successfully mandated insurance, but it’s often very limited. For instance, Virginia passed legislation a few years ago requiring liability coverage in that state.
Unfortunately, to date Florida has not passed similar legislation. The latest attempt was House Bill 1369, which was introduced in January of 2018 and subsequently died in subcommittee by March of 2018.
Why is it Hard to Pass Minimum Liability Coverage?
This is a complex question with serious political and practical concerns. For one, the nursing home industry has lobbied aggressively to avoid any legal obligations to their residents. They always make the same argument that it will open the doors to litigation. But this has not been the case in jurisdictions that passed minimum insurance requirements. Likewise, the insurance industry has fought it, arguing that the costs of insurance would be too high. Yet somehow it works for hospitals, medical providers, auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and even boat insurance. There’s an insurance policy for just about everything, so there’s no reason to think the insurance industry cannot make a profit by offering reasonable insurance coverage to nursing homes as well.
Finally, there is a definite lack of political will and pressure. The general public knows little about how nursing homes are owned and operated, and this allows politicians and their powerful lobbyists to get away with leaving the nursing home industry practically operating as the wild west of healthcare. The good news is that attorneys are out there every day fighting these nursing home companies and holding their feet to the fire. If you have a loved one who has been injured in a nursing home, call Roman & Roman, P.A., or visit us online to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options.
We have four area offices in Clearwater, Tampa & Hudson, Florida.