Credo Action

Investigate Rick Scott for his role in elder abuse

Sign the petition

The petition to Florida Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran reads:

"As concerned Floridians, we call upon you to launch a joint task force to investigate Rick Scott administration's responsibility for the unsafe conditions in Florida's nursing homes."

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    Investigate Rick Scott for his role in elder abuse

    It is sickening to imagine what it was like inside the South Florida nursing home where 114 residents were left in broiling heat for days after Hurricane Irma. With the power grid down and no generators, the suffocating heat ultimately led to the loss of 12 lives – nearly 10 percent of the residents.

    It is also sickening to realize that under Gov. Rick Scott's administration, a tragedy like this was sadly predictable. Since taking office, Scott has systematically weakened protections for Florida's nursing home patients. His administration has ignored complaints and turned a blind eye to violations – including a history of violations by the facility where those 12 patients lived.3 Floridians need to know exactly what role the Scott administration played in making this tragedy possible and how to protect Florida's oldest and sickest residents in the future.

    Tell the Florida Legislature: Investigate Rick Scott and his administration's role in nursing home elder abuse.

    For seven years, Brian Lee was Florida's top advocate in charge of protecting nursing home patients – inspecting nursing homes and making sure that the state responded to complaints from patients and their families.

    But soon after Gov. Rick Scott took office, he fired Lee for being too tough on the nursing home industry.1 That was the conclusion of a federal investigation into Lee's firing, which also said the Scott administration broke the law by preventing Lee and volunteers under his supervision from speaking up for nursing home residents.2

    After firing Lee, Scott replaced him with an industry-friendly bureaucrat who blocked the program's hundreds of volunteer advocates from even visiting nursing homes.4 Now the watchdog program has been crippled and the job has been held by five people in six years.

    Even when inspectors are able to document abuses, Scott allows repeat-offender nursing homes to continue caring for patients. Just weeks before the deaths occurred, the Scott administration lifted a ban on new patients at another nursing home operated by the same owner as the one where patients died. That home also had a long history of disturbing violations – but the Scott administration made no move to shut it down until the national spotlight on Florida forced them to take action.6

    Tell the Florida Legislature: Investigate Rick Scott and his administration's role in nursing home elder abuse.

    Scott believes in protecting profits, not patients. Before becoming governor, he was forced to resign as CEO of a health care company that committed one of the largest cases of Medicare fraud in history.7 But now that his indifference to patient welfare is again in the national spotlight, reporters have been uncovering new problems almost daily.

    Scott deleted voicemails from nursing home administrators after the storm.8 His health care agency heavily redacts inspection reports available to the public.9 He cut inspections in half at some specialty care assisted living facilities.10 We still don't know the extent of how the Scott administration has failed nursing home patients – which is why the Florida Legislature must get involved.

    Florida lawmakers are considering bills to help nursing home residents after natural disasters, but the treatment of Florida nursing home patients was a public health disaster long before Hurricane Irma. Requiring generators in nursing homes is an obvious first step, but it's a Band-Aid solution that won't address the long history of neglect and willful mismanagement by this administration. The legislature must provide a check on the administration to stand up for Florida's most vulnerable residents.

    Tell the Florida Legislature: Investigate Rick Scott and his administration's role in nursing home elder abuse.

    References:

    1. Kate Santich, "Federal report cites state's wrongdoing in nursing-home ombudsman program," Orlando Sentinel, Sept. 1, 2011.
    2. Administration on Aging, "Compliance Review of the State of Florida Long-term Care Ombudsman Program," Sept 1, 2011.
    3. Max Blau, "Florida nursing home where eight deaths occurred had repeat safety violations," Stat News, Sept. 13, 2017.
    4. Carol Marbin Miller, "Leader’s departure ends tumultuous time for Florida’s program to protect nursing home, ALF residents," Miami Herald, Aug. 4, 2013.
    5. Melanie Payne and Arek Sarkissian, "Florida nursing home deaths: Owner's other facility faced state ban on new patients," The News-Press, Sept. 15, 2017.
    6. Mary Ellen Klas and Daniel Chang, "Regulators move to shut Miami-Dade ALF affiliated with nursing home where 11 died," Miami Herald, Sept. 28, 2017.
    7. Marc Caputo, "Columbia/HCA legacy follows Rick Scott to governor’s mansion," Miami Herald, Oct. 20, 2014.
    8. Christal Hayes, "Rick Scott may have violated the law by deleting pleas for help from nursing home where 11 died," Newsweek, Sept. 25, 2017.
    9. Mary Ellen Klas, "Nursing homes used to Florida regulators’ soft touch scramble to meet a hard deadline," Miami Herald, Sept. 19, 2017.
    10. Ibid.