Elder Protections in the Affordable Care Act


Twenty-one employees of a Georgia nursing home specializing in caring for patients with Alzheimer’s disease were recently arrested on abuse charges that included using bed sheets as restraints and failing to maintain proper hygiene. It turned out that some employees had previous felony conviction records for manslaughter and identity theft that should have barred them from working in a nursing home. Sadly, news stories like this are all too common, which is why several provisions to protect the health and safety of nursing home residents were added to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Provisions to protect the elderly

The ACA includes three provisions that apply to nursing homes receiving reimbursement through Medicare and Medicaid:

  • Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act
  • Elder Justice Act
  • Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act

The transparency measures aim to identify all the parties responsible for financing and management of nursing home facilities and make reporting on expenditures, daily care hours, and staffing more accurate. Nursing aides must receive training for care of patients with dementia and in abuse prevention. The Elder Justice Act provides resources to identify treat and prosecute the abuse and exploitation of senior citizens. The Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act adds a federal background check program to keep people with certain criminal records from working in nursing homes.

Owens & Mulherin applauds these steps to improve the health and well-being of seniors, especially residents of nursing homes.

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