FRANKFORT — More than 100 senior citizens and advocates rallied Thursday at the Capitol Rotunda in support of several bills before the Kentucky General Assembly—and against one bill in particular.
They urged Kentucky lawmakers to oppose legislation that creates a panel to review lawsuits against nursing homes and requires those filing suits to pay fees to submit their case to the panel, said Cathy Murphy, associate state director for the AARP.
The demonstrators said that, if passed, Senate Bill 9 would make it harder for seniors to sue nursing homes that abuse or neglect residents.
"We rank one of the worst in the nation in quality," Murphy said. "We rank the highest in fines. And the talk about the frivolous lawsuits. I've not seen any evidence whatsoever, and the families that I know that have had a lawsuit would not call it frivolous."
The Kentucky Senate on Wednesday approved that sets up a panel to review abuse cases from nursing homes.
Three doctors would be put on the panel to review abuse cases; the bill would not prevent patients from filing lawsuits, but the findings from the panel could be admissible in court.
The Senate approved Senate Bill 9 on a party-line vote—Republican for, Democrats against.
The bill sponsor, Sen. Julie Denton, a Louisville Republican, said the goal is to crack down on bad lawsuits, while still protecting nursing home patients.
"No one wants to see someone hurt, someone abused, someone neglected and I'm not here to say there aren't some horrible things that have happened to people and that they don't deserve justice, because they do and this in no way precludes that," Denton said.
A new report has advocates for the nursing home industry in Kentucky saying “I told you so.” The report by Aon Global Risk Consulting ranks Kentucky as the worst state for expenses per bed and for the amount of litigation against nursing homes.
A Kentucky law firm that specializes in nursing home abuse cases is pushing back on nursing home company Extendicare’s claim that the state’s legal environment is causing it to pull back its operation.