Texas Legislature to consider 'three-strikes' nursing home law

Most of us associate nursing homes with providing long-term care for the elderly. While this is certainly accurate, it's important to understand that these facilities also care for other types of patients.

For example, they frequently house recipients of Social Security disability benefits, including those people requiring 24-hour medical care or those people recovering from a particularly difficult surgical procedure.  

In light of this reality, it becomes important to examine a recent recommendation by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, the legislative panel "tasked with identifying and eliminating waste, duplication, and inefficiency for more than 130 Texas state agencies," concerning nursing homes.

Last week, the commission recommended that state lawmakers give strong consideration to the possibility of passing a law calling for nursing homes found by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services to have committed three or more egregious offenses over the course of a two-year period to have their licenses revoked.  

This so-called "three-strikes laws" was introduced by Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown), who argued that such a measure was needed to counteract the sometimes slow-moving federal authorities and would target only "the worst of the worst." In fact, he indicated that his research determined that only seven of the state's 1,200 nursing homes would likely be shut down if such a law was put in place.

While the 12-member panel approved the recommendation, it wasn't without its opponents. For instance, at least two panel members expressed concerns that the legislation was not only unnecessary, but could potentially ensnare those nursing homes actively working to improve their facilities.

The bill now moves on to the state legislature, where its prospects of passing remain unclear given the powerful lobbying groups on each side of the issue.

If the law did pass, it would represent a significant change from the current law, which authorizes the Department of Aging and Disability Services to conduct regular inspections of nursing homes, issue corrective plans, revoke licenses, and institute emergency license suspensions/forced closures if necessary.      

Stay tuned for updates ...

It's important for those people who suffer from debilitating illnesses and endure life-altering injuries to never give up when it comes to securing much-needed disability benefits, and to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who is willing to fight on their behalf.

Source: The Houston Chronicle, "Should Texas adopt a 3-strikes law for negligent nursing homes?" Lauren McGaughy, Aug. 13, 2014