Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wisconsin Law threatens Seniors

Everyone agrees our economy needs improvement.

But, supposedly in the name of jobs, jobs, jobs, Governor Walker has proposed legislation that would protect the profits of Fortune 500 nursing home corporations at the expense of senior citizens.

His proposed legislation limits the amount of money a jury can award in nursing home abuse and neglect cases and makes it almost impossible for a jury to force a Fortune 500 company to pay money that would punish it for bad conduct that kills or maims local senior citizens.

How will this create jobs?

This legislation would come on the heels of a belt tightening that already severely limits the number of state regulators investigating nursing home abuse cases. Even when the state issues citations to bad facilities that hurt senior citizens, the amount of the fine is almost always laughable. The fines are considered the price of “doing business” for a Fortune 500 company. In fact, many fines are discounted if the facilities agree not to fight the fine and pay within 30 days.

Try striking that bargain with your upcoming property tax bill.

Our tax dollars fund Medicare and Medicaid. The large nursing home claims accept this money to care for our most frail seniors. If and when these same companies abuse and neglect our seniors (their patients), we taxpayers currently can hold them accountable by using our jury system. Only a few of these cases ultimately make their way through the system.

If Walker’s proposals pass, even these cases will fall. So much for concepts like local control, accountability and respect.

We need more accountability. We need to protect seniors. We need to protect the sanctity of human life.

We cannot pull out of an economic downturn by turning a blind eye to bad conduct that hurts and kills our most vulnerable citizens.

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