Nursing Home Rights

Federal Nursing Home Reform Amendments

The Supreme Court will soon decide on certain rights of nursing home residents. This is complicated but it has significant ramifications for future cases against nursing homes. Can residents in government facilities enforce the rights set out in the Federal Nursing Home Reform Amendments (FNHRA) meant to protect the health, safety, and well-being of vulnerable adults. Reagan signed the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act (FHNRA)in 1987 establishing a “bill of rights” for residents of nursing homes receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding.

The case before the Court is Health & Hosp. Corp. of Marion Cty., Ind. v. Talevski, U.S., No. 21-806, review granted 5/2/22. According to a petition filed by Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County, Ind., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit improperly allowed a suit brought on behalf of Gorgi Talevski to proceed. They are asking the court to overturn an appeals court ruling that allowed a lawsuit on behalf of a nursing home resident.

Talevski was a resident of Valparaiso Care & Rehabilitation. Defendants administered unnecessary psychotropic drugs for purposes of chemical restraint. The facility also tried to illegally discharge Talevski without consent. The facility’s acts and omissions violated residents’ rights set out in FNHRA. The lawsuit was brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983 because it is a government operated facility. Section 1983 of the U.S. Code allows survivors to sue government entities that violate their legal rights.

The Seventh Circuit decision emphasized that FNHRA lists specific rights about abuse and neglect including the right to be free from chemical or physical restraints. The Third and Ninth circuits also have held that residents can sue under Section 1983 for violations of those rights.

Two long-term care industry trade groups urged the court to take the case in a friend of the court brief. Seventeen states joined a friend of the court brief asking the court to accept review to clarify the private right of action doctrine.

Apparently this is the year that the Supreme court will take away people’s rights.