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Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing onElder Abuse in Nursing Homes

On July 23, 2019, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to address new reports that nursing home residents are increasingly at risk of abuse. Representatives of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and HSS Office of Inspector General testified on findings of their recent investigations on abuse. The GAO report – Nursing Homes: Improved Oversight Needed to Better Protect Residents from Abuse – concluded that abuse deficiencies more than doubled in recent years, with the largest increase in severe cases. OIG’s representative testified on a series of reports, including a June 2019 report that found nursing home abuse is rarely reported.

Consumer Voice Executive Director Lori Smetanka was the sole consumer witness at the hearing. She recommended setting minimum staffing requirements, establishing standards and oversight for nursing home owners, preventing the rollback of standards, increasing transparency on conditions in nursing homes and funding elder justice provisions. Read her statement and a statement submitted by Toby Edelman of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.  

The hearing, titled “Promoting Elder Justice: A Call for Reform,” is expected to lead to federal legislative proposals, however, it is not at all clear that they will be steps in the right direction.