Advocates Fight for Nursing Home Reform
A proposed law that could allow Texas to close down nursing homes with repeat violations more easily passed a significant hurdle this week. On Monday, Senate Bill 304, known as the “Three Strikes Rule” bill, passed the Texas Senate. State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) filed the bill in direct response to KVUE Defenders investigations which uncovered abuse and neglect inside Texas nursing homes. If passed, the law would allow the Department of Aging and Disability Services to shut down nursing facilities cited three times for the worst offenses during a two-year span. “This proposal only targets repeat bad actors,” said Schwertner in March. “Change needs to come. People need to see what happens behind the closed doors,” said Sandy Martinez. The KVUE Defenders profiled her late father in 2014 after she claims a nursing home neglected him. The bill isn’t sitting well with some Texas nursing home owners. That includes Ron Payne, chairman of the Texas Healthcare Association (THCA), which lobbies for nursing homes. He believes the bill could unintentionally close good nursing homes. “It’s the mandatory closing based upon a third strike, that’s the concern that we have with this bill,” said Payne, testifying during a Senate committee meeting. According to state records reviewed by the Defenders, the THCA has donated $931,795 to campaigns of Texas lawmakers since 2000.
David Wingate is an elder law attorney and practices in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The elder law firm prepares wills, trusts, powers of attorneys, asset protection, and Medicaid.