Arkansas Lawmakers Cut Elderly Medicaid Funds - Elliott & Smith Law Firm

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Dec 28

Arkansas Lawmakers Cut Elderly Medicaid Funds

The Legislative Council’s action, may force more older adults into nursing homes where they may face additional nursing home abuse risks.

For several months, lawmakers looked for ways to make dwindling Medicaid resources cover most eligible elderly individuals, disabled people, and children. The new caps apply to both the value and length of services. The government will reimburse up to $30,000 a year per patient if the individual needs help with eating, mobility, and using the bathroom. Moreover, funds are limited to sixty-four months in many cases.

State Aging, Adult and Behavioral Health Services Division Director Mark White said that the cuts would not affect service levels, but lawmakers were not convinced. “People are very much concerned about this, especially the elderly and those individuals who are in assisted living facilities,” remarked Sen. Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock). “What do I tell them if I vote for this that I have not done something to harm them?”

“There’s an old saying that money is the root of all evil. That’s almost always true in nursing home abuse and neglect cases. These incidents almost always have economic roots,” commented Arkansas personal injury attorney Don R. Elliott Jr.

These latest Medicaid cuts are just the latest of a series of reductions dating back to the 1990s, he explained. As per-patient reimbursement drops, many nursing home administrators use volume to make up the difference. As a result, facilities already full become overcrowded. If increased volume is not enough, and it normally is not, administrators often trim expenses, and they often start with payroll. Therefore, the overcrowded facility becomes understaffed as well.

These problems are especially acute during low-census periods, like weekends and holidays. Overall, understaffing and overcrowding often leads to abuse and neglect like:

  • Resident on Resident Abuse: This type of physical abuse often begins as petty disputes between residents, usually over a lack of privacy. If there is no one to step in and mediate the dispute, it quickly becomes violent. Many nursing home residents are quite frail, so any physical contact causes serious injury.
  • Bedsores: People never develop pressure ulcers as long as they turn over in bed every few hours. But, for various reasons, many nursing home residents cannot turn themselves. When the facility is understaffed, rounds often get skipped. If left untreated, bedsores quickly become life-threatening.
  • Staff on Resident Abuse: Stressed-out staff members often take out their frustrations on residents. The abuse could be physical, mental, emotional, or even sexual. All these types of abuse cause serious physical and psychological injuries.

Compensation in nursing home abuse and neglect claims usually includes money for economic damages; such as medical bills, and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.

Typically, the nursing home is legally responsible for these damages, according to third-party liability theories like respondeat superior and negligent supervision.

Call us today at (479)-JUSTICE (587-8493), to discuss your case.