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And we wonder why care isn’t getting better

Published on December 11th, 2008

The Chicago Tribune recently had an article about how politicians are bought off by the nursing home lobbyists and their substantial campaign contributions.  This is one of the reasons why health care should not be a for profit business.  Lawmakers receive thousands of dollars in contributions every year from the nursing home industry.  In return, the industry makes sure that staffing is kept low, no insurance is necessary, and no oversight  by the State is effective.

Among the contributors is Tim Boyle, the owner of Grinnell’s Friendship Manor, who serves as the president of the board of the Iowa Healthcare Association, a lobbying organization that represents nursing homes.  There were 12 legislative fundraisers during one week last year that were held by the Iowa Healthcare Association.  11 of the fundraisers were held at Iowa nursing homes.   The other was held at Boyle’s South Dakota home, and was for Rep. Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, then the minority leader of the Iowa House. Rants collected 15 checks totaling $3,090, according to state records.

Boyle, whose Friendship Manor is facing a $112,650 federal fine for alleged neglect of an elderly woman, has complained to lawmakers that the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals is "overly aggressive" in policing the state’s nursing home industry.

The newspaper reported that the Iowa Healthcare Association in March provided Iowa’s care facility administrators with a fill-in-the-blank letter that could be given to residents forward to lawmakers.

It read, in part:

“(NAME OF FACILITY) is dedicated to providing the best care. … Increasing fines by the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) are cutting into the funds that nursing homes have to put toward providing care. … (NAME OF FACILITY) will either be forced to close or increase my rates. I do not want to be forced to move into another nursing home. …”

Of course, this letter is an outright lie. The nursing home industry makes plenty of money. Just look at their stock prices.  Demand is high and supply is low.  Nursing homes are certainly making enough profit to waste thousands of dollars on lobbying politicians every year.

Joe Pioletti
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