They’re killing us softly, like frogs in a slowly boiling pot. Every day it gets harder for those born into my generation to get a break in our little battle for what we call life. We struggle head-on with the economy, our health, Western medicine, the pharmaceutical industry, corporate profits, GMOs, chemtrails, Smart Meters, 5G cell towers, geo engineering, firestorm terrorism, “fake news,” and those with different views in what is seemingly a never ending assault on all senses that promises to change all that is, us included, in dramatic fashion.

The state of the health care nation for our elderly grows darker by the hour. This is again evidenced by the Trump Administration that has scaled back the use of fines against nursing homes that harm residents or place them in grave risk of injury. This is a “reversal of guidelines put in place by President Obama,” writes Jordan Rau of Kaiser Health News.

Not surprisingly, it was the nursing home industry itself that requested the changes to the Medicare program’s penalty protocols, saying that relief was “critical”. The nursing home industry’s central trade group, the American Health Care Association, the Kaiser article says, had complained to the Trump Administration that government inspectors excessively focused on catching wrongdoing rather than helping nursing homes to improve. Where some people come from, this is called deterrence. And isn’t deterrence the whole point of nursing home regulation? To deter abuse and neglect by health care facilities whose operators are focused on the bottom line — budget cuts disguised as shareholder profits.

Since 2013, nearly 6,500 nursing homes — 4 out of every 10 — have been cited at least once for serious violations. “Medicare has fined two-thirds of those homes,” Rau writes. “Common citations include failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores.” And so we’re going to just cut that oversight, right? Avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores be damned!

The new Trump guidelines discourage federal regulators from levying fines in some situations, even when they have resulted in a resident’s death. The guidelines are expected to result in lower fines for many facilities. “The change in federal policy aligns with Trump’s promise to reduce bureaucracy, regulation and government intervention in business,” the Kaiser article says. Many facilities are going to be saving money as well by not having to pay stiffly appropriate fines.

The change in federal policy also aligns with health care providers’ argument that they have been spending too much time complying with regulations that they say get in the way of providing health care for their patients. What they don’t say is that paid nursing home employee time spent attending to oversight regulators also takes profit from shareholders’ mouths.

WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY?

Statistics say there are 1.3 million Americans living in nursing homes today. This number seems very low. According to Morning Star, by the year 2020, 40 percent of all deaths in the United States will take place in nursing homes. So is dismantling federal regulations in this industry really something we who represent aging baby boomers want to do? Who is protecting the seniors interests in health care that doesn’t kill them? Do seniors really have to go to nursing homes to suffer, be drugged, and die? How many caregivers do we need to accomplish this?

The federal guidelines that were put into place in 2013, which increased fines for nursing home actions that harm or even kill patients, were reversed. The oversight and imposition of fines were intended to encourage nursing homes to toe the line and meet the high standards. With the Trump Administration guidelines, however, regulators are discouraged from levying fines in many situations, some that have even resulted in deaths of the residents.

According to the Kaiser article, Senior attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Tony Edelman, confirms, saying: “They’ve pretty much emasculated enforcement, which was already weak.” The article cites a Kaiser report of one nursing home patient who died because of staff failure to monitor and treat a wound. Under the 2013 guidelines, the nursing home was fined almost $300,000. Under Trump’s new guidelines, the maximum fine would have been less than $21,000. That’s a $279,000 windfall for corporate shareholders to divide among themselves.

RESIDENTS WAIVE RIGHT TO SUE IN COURT

To make matters even more difficult for Alzheimer’s patients and wheelchair bound elderly, for decades patients and their families have been prevented from legally redressing their grievances by suing nursing homes even when they were guilty of egregious negligence or abuse. The nursing homes ensured this by making people entering the facilities sign contracts requiring them to settle any future disputes through arbitration.

The Obama Administration had barred nursing homes from this practice, protecting the rights of residents and their families to take nursing homes to court. However, the Trump Administration not only threw out this protection, says The New York Times, it has proposed a federal rule change to affirmatively allow nursing homes to bar residents and their families from filing lawsuits.

Again, there has to be a group that truly represents the seniors’ interests. Here, the issue seems quite clear. Those seniors who live in health care facilities are doing so because they have no other choice in life. Many of them have suffered severe health ailments that have rendered them wheelchair bound. Many of those who are disabled physically also suffer from major mental and emotional issues that are related in cause and origin. True science has proven that Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases are tied to physical deterioration of the cells of the body. In other words disease of the mind originates from a diseased body. In mind as in body.

Many of these disabled seniors have no money and rely on government to protect them from negligent and abusive caregiving. Their families don’t have the money to take care of their beloved seniors. So family members have no choice but to commence searching for a nursing facility that will even admit their senior loved one. When they get accepted, under the Trump Administration suggested policy, the seniors’ family would have to sign a waiver saying they can never sue the nursing home no matter what kind of abuse or neglect they do to a loved one. Regardless, burdened family members who have run out of energy, money, and options on how to care for their senior loved one will jump at the chance to hand their mother or father over to a nursing facility and breathe easier as a result, believing someone else has relieved them of the responsibility of providing direct health care.

BOTTOM LINE IS MORE LEGISLATION NEEDED TO AID GROWING NUMBER OF SENIORS

Here’s the bottom line. Elderly citizens confined to nursing home care are not getting the protection they need from bigger institutions that are supposed to provide their health care. Deterrence for the nursing home industry to comply with adequate standards is being squandered by government and the corporations that play banker investment games for profit with the nursing homes that care for the elderly across the country.

New, more meaningful legislation appears to be the only adequate fix to the glitches in the present health care laws. We will also need to appropriate the necessary funding in government health care budgets to allow for zealous regulation of the home nursing industry and then to legislate unbiased bi-partisan supported laws with crocodile sharp teeth that will hold the operators of American nursing homes, and the shareholders who climb into corporate board of directors’ heads to maximize profits, accountable for every misstep they take in caring for each and every nursing home patient. Only then will we begin to relieve the suffering of those who require nursing home care, because the industry will then be appropriately regulated, and the penalties for negligence and abuse will be too steep a price to pay for disobeying the law.