AARP Foundation Litigation

AARP Foundation Litigation is coming after the nursing home industry. The chronic understaffing violates civil rights and consumer protections. Staff attorneys from the litigation unit sued a skilled nursing chain and two assisted living operators. Nursing homes promise expertise and resources to families. Families of residents have certain expectations about the care that will be provided.

AARP Foundation Litigation attorneys Kelly Bagby and Benjamin David participated in a webinar hosted by the Long-Term Care Community Coalition.

“People are always under the mistaken belief that [their loved ones] will get individual care,” Benjamin said. “Staffing isn’t devoted to that level. They may be told, ‘We can meet your needs,’ but looking at the size of the staff, that’s impossible.”

Bagby said litigation “forces” nursing facility companies to change their practices to include “adequate” staffing. The AARP Foundation claims that some nursing homes are intentionally understaffing its facilities for profit.

“You should not be lied to about the staffing levels when you come into one of the facilities,” Bagby said. “We believe the decision to understaff is done at a corporate level … and the facilities don’t have a lot of discretion against what the corporation tells them.”

Competency and training matters, too.

“They need caring staff who are willing to meet [patients’] assessed needs,” she said. “[Providers} have to train [staff]. They have to be competent. They have to want to be there. What [nursing facilities] are selling is a community where your care needs need to be met.”

AARP Foundation is interested in pushing more False Claims Act cases to the US Department of Justice and suggested that webinar participants work with state attorneys general’s offices to identify Medicare and Medicaid fraud that could draw the attention of federal prosecutors.