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Nursing home network under review after massive lawsuit

Florida's senior citizens are best served by a robust system of nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities that can help them manage their lives during their golden years. While Florida has more nursing homes that any other state, it also leads the nation in disputes regarding care.

A lawsuit brought by the U.S. and Florida governments claimed a system of fraud created by largest network of nursing homes in the state. A federal jury found the system overcharged government programs for fictional or unnecessary treatments.

"I think it's all about money," according to the brother of a patient denied physical therapy due to a benefits dispute. "I think profit and money and benefits come before patients."

The jury's verdict was overturned by a federal judge this year on the basis that the network had not done anything that federal or state regulators disputed. Many senior care specialists, however, commented that this was a case of a jury taking required action when the government was unwilling.

Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration later challenged several of the network's worst performing facilities. Researchers in fields connected to nursing home care believe that limited action happens because large networks of care providers are difficult to challenge, leading to weaker enforcement.

The burden often falls to families of residents to look out for their care and start proceedings against a nursing home if their poor care or neglect is causing health problems. An attorney may help investigate claims of improper nursing home care and prepare a lawsuit to reimburse or compensate victims and their families.

Source: Naples Daily News, "Neglected: Florida's largest nursing home chain survives despite legacy of poor patient care," Ryan Mills and Melanie Payne, June 02, 2018

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