Iowans, keep a closer watch on loved ones in nursing homes

For years, Iowa legislators have been eager to do whatever the nursing home industry asks of them. The Iowa Health Care Association’s lobbying efforts on behalf of nursing home owners have yielded impressive results. In 2009, the Iowa House and Senate unanimously passed a bill eliminating fines for dozens of violations at elder care facilities. Lawmakers from both parties have lobbied for the industry’s wish list in Washington. They have whined about inspectors “gotcha mentality” and in some cases interfered with the work of nursing home inspectors.

The Iowa Health Care Association’s influence will increase in the next administration. Governor-elect Terry Branstad told Iowa Public Television in October that he will appoint new leadership for the Department of Inspections and Appeals, with a view to more “collaborative and cooperative” work with nursing homes. That’s not good news for residents whose lives literally depend on how standards of care are enforced.

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