The Kentucky 2016 Regular Session started on Tuesday, January 5 and is due to end Tuesday April 12. Top concerns for the legislative session this year include the budget and Kentucky’s public pension system. The administration has changed and we expect to see legislation favorable to the long-term care industry.
Medical Review Panels are introduced every year. This year is no exception. SB6/LM (BR1019) was filed in the Senate and sent to the Senate Health & Welfare Committee. Since key senators have sponsored this bill it will pass in the Senate but will receive no support subsequently in the House Health & Welfare Committee. SB6 provides an obstacle to the justice system for vulnerable adults in nursing homes and relieves facilities of accountability for failing to care for elderly residents in long-term care.
The last day for new senate bills is Friday, February 13 and for new House bills is February 17. The legislature will essentially complete business by Friday, March 6. Please note that this year is a “short” session year making it critical that advocates get the word out about the bills before the legislature.
The point of medical review panels is that you can’t bring a lawsuit into court without first going through a panel of healthcare providers. The panel determines if there is enough evidence of failure to provide appropriate care and that the failure caused a negative outcome for the resident. These panels add time and money to the legal process that residents often don’t have. You can still go to court regardless of the opinion rendered. However, if the opinion is against the resident this will reduce the likelihood of an attorney proceeding with the case for the plaintiff.
We oppose this bill because it removes a needed incentive for the industry to provide quality care for residents of long-term care facilities. It limits an individual’s constitutional right for redress in our court system. The extra step of the review panel would introduce an additional barrier to families with limited time and means.
Rejecting SB6 keeps the focus on care at the bedside rather than legal wrangling at the courthouse.
The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting recently published an article online http://kycir.org/2016/01/08/another-year-another-push-for-medical-review-panels-in-kentucky/ addressing the bill. A report published by the Pew Charitable Trust in 2003 http://www.pewtrusts.org/~/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/reports/medical_liability/medicalmalpractice101603pdf.pdf cited in the KYCIR article above explodes the myth that Medical Review Panels reduce litigation.
Please familiarize yourself with Kentucky’s legislative website at http://www.lrc.ky.gov/home.htm. In addition, find your legislator at http://www.lrc.ky.gov/Find%20Your%20Legislator/Find%20Your%20Legislator.html.
Contact your State Legislators at http://www.lrc.ky.gov/whoswho/email.htm or call and leave them a message @ 1-800-372-7181.
Let them know that you don’t want any legislation that will take advantage of our residents in long-term care and reduce their quality of life.
Legislative Committee Chair
Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency