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  1. Opinion

Don’t loosen protections for elders in nursing homes

Here’s what readers had to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
[Times files]
[Times files]
Published Oct. 14

Don’t regress on elder rights

Rights of nursing home residents

Elders living in nursing homes face significant threats to their rights. The regulations set forth in the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act (the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 or “ORBA”) came after two decades of advocacy and an Institute of Medicine report documenting the shockingly inadequate care and in some cases, abuse, that elders faced in nursing homes. That act established that elders’ quality of life — not just quality of care — must be maintained or improved, that residents have rights including the right to be free of physical or chemical restraints, and it established minimum staff training requirements. The act also instituted financial penalties.

It wasn’t until 2016 that additional protections were added in residents’ rights, freedom from abuse, neglect and exploitation, admission, transfer and discharge rights, care planning, infection control, training requirements and quality assurance and performance improvement. That 2016 rule also banned pre-dispute, binding arbitration agreements in nursing home contracts.

Significant deregulation has already occurred under the current administration, including weakening the rules governing financial penalties and reversing the 2016 ban on requiring residents to enter into arbitration agreements to settle disputes. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ most recent proposed rule will further erode gains in grievances, admission/transfer/discharge, quality of care, pharmacy services, administration, quality assurance, infection control, compliance and ethics and physical environment. This proposal came after the nursing home industry claimed that the 2016 rule was burdensome.

We can’t go back to the old nursing home industry. Elders stand to lose important protections and rights if the 2019 rule is passed. Decades of hard-fought advocacy, research and legislation are at risk as well as the future of quality of care and quality of life in nursing homes. At a minimum, we need to avoid the changes proposed in the 2019 rule, which would undermine some of the most important improvements in the quality of nursing home care put in place over 30 years ago.

Lori Gonzalez, Tallahassee

The writer is on the research faculty at the Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University.

Hearing what you want

Nothing to cheer about on Capitol Hill | Column, Oct. 6

Adam Goodman, national Republican media consultant and Times columnist

If there is one comment Adam Goodman made that goes right to the heart of the impeachment issue, it is his quoting of To Kill a Mockingbird, in which Atticus Finch says, “People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”

Of that pearl of wisdom Mr. Goodman proves himself to be a shining example, as he goes on to parrot Republican talking points while ignoring the elephant in the room — the misconduct of the president that cannot continue to go on with impunity. As for the “vote of confidence that belongs to the American people,” that vote would currently be 51 percent in favor of impeachment to 43 percent against. No one is cheering for strife in the U.S. Capitol, but enough is enough.

Teresa Brandt, Temple Terrace

No choice but to go ahead

Nothing to cheer about on Capitol Hill | Column, Oct. 6

Adam Goodman’s column is full of partisan rhetoric that skims past the truth. “Inquisition shorn of due process”? “Full-on political prejudice”? I don’t think so. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear over the last months that she does not want an impeachment. But what are we to do?

We have a president who tosses our laws aside like dirty socks. He tells his people to ignore a subpoena, an important instrument of law. He asks Ukraine to investigate his political opponent — even though both Bidens have been investigated and no wrongdoing found. Then, when challenged about the legality of this move, he flaunted his disdain for the law, and called on China to do the same investigation.

We have to draw the line. The alternative is to stand meekly by, and allow him to make his own laws.

Lorraine Madison, St. Petersburg

Check and double-check

Did Warren receive $400k to teach one class? | PolitiFact, Oct. 6

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. [JOHN LOCHER | AP]

Caveat lector — let the reader beware. This PolitiFact analysis is a solid endorsement of my decades-long caution to my students at, now, the University of Tampa and, previously, at Curry College in Massachusetts: “Don’t accept what you read online or elsewhere at face value. Check and double-check the information.”

The platforms through which one can both transmit and receive information have expanded exponentially, and “gatekeepers” (editors, fact-checkers) for those venues are fewer and farther between.

As I tell my students again and again, “If what you read or hear makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, look somewhere else to make sure that others are saying the same thing. Don’t accept just one person’s claims.”

Caveat lector!

Kirk Hazlett, Riverview

The writer is an adjunct professor of communication at the University of Tampa and is ethics officer for the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

America’s future

Can Democrats take impeachment seriously | Column, Oct. 6

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., joins Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., right, at a news conference as House Democrats move on depositions in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. [J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE | AP]

I enjoy reading Peggy Noonan. She opines that Democrats should be genuinely sad at impeaching a president. I believe our Constitution was designed to protect Americans. I — and, I believe, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff — would be delighted to see some of those constitutional protections go into effect. That would be a time to be genuinely happy about America’s future, not sad about Donald Trump. Having been a baby when Herbert Hoover was president, I hope to experience that moment of happiness in 2020 or before.

Joe Green, Brooksville

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