“FNHRA establishes the minimum standards of care to which nursing-home facilities must adhere in order to receive federal funds in the Medicaid program, 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq.”
The United States Supreme Court decided an important case recently. The Talevski decision upheld a private right of action when a nursing home violates resident rights under the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 (FNHRA). Ronald Reagan’s Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 1395i-3; 1396r, enacted FNHRA pursuant to Congress’s Spending Clause powers.
The Supreme Court held that FNHRA explicitly confers certain rights on nursing home residents, including the right to be free from chemical restraints and not to be subject to illegal discharge. This is a victory for nursing home residents.
In order to prevent abuse and neglect, federal authorities enacted regulations governing care in facilities that receive government funds. See 42 C.F.R. § 483 et. seq. These regulations are meant to provide nursing home residents “a dignified existence, self determination, and communication with and access to persons and services inside and outside the facility.” 42 C.F.R. § 483.10. They govern staffing levels, nutrition and hydration, turning and repositioning of residents to avoid pressure injuries. The safety rules guarantee nursing home residents with quality care.
These rights are enforceable under Section 1983 of the United States Code which provides citizens with a private right of action when a state deprives them of rights secured by the “Constitutions and laws.” The safety standards in federal and state regulations empower residents to use the regulations in the course of a lawsuit against a nursing home that accepts federal Medicare and Medicare funds.
The family of Gorgi Talevski brought the lawsuit in federal court after Valparaiso Care and Rehabilitation (VCR) neglected Mr. Talevski. The complaint alleged that the facility illegally sedated Mr. Talevski with a variety of psychotropic drugs and then illegally discharged him from the facility.