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Disability Rights NationOct. 25-31
Although a third of California nursing homes have been cited for violations that cause death or life-threatening harm, officials "generally took a lenient stance toward" the institutions, said the General Accounting Office's William Scanlon at hearings before the Senate Special Committee on Aging in late July. The hearings stemmed from a report last fall on abuses in California ("Speaking of nursing home 'quality of care,'"Jan./Feb. '98).
Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) the ranking Democrat on the committee, said, "Other states probably have similar problems." The study showed nursing home inmates were left sitting in urine and feces for days and had bedsores exposing bone.
Committee chair Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said the federal Health Care Financing Administration, which is supposed to regulate nursing homes, "has been comatose too long" and called the situation "horrifying."
Two weeks before the hearings, Pres. Clinton called for more funding for nursing homes, calling them a "godsend for older Americans." He did not mention the Medicaid Community Attendant Services Act now in Congress (MiCASA) which would require states to offer in-home services in lieu of nursing homes (nursing home chains have made large financial contributions to Clinton election efforts).
"Homes can repeatedly harm residents without facing sanctions," said Scanlon. HCFA can cut off federal money to nursing homes but rarely does. Only 16 of California's 1,370 have lost funds said Scanlon--and 14 of the 16 were reinstated.
Activists pushing for a sculpture of FDR in a wheelchair at the the Roosevelt Memorial got their wish in July when the National Park Service announced that a sculpture of the president "in the small wheelchair he designed" would be added at the entrance to the popular attraction.
Hugh Gregory Gallagher, author of FDR's Splendid Deception, added, "Disabled people will be able to roll up beside it and have their picture taken. Parents can tell their children, 'This guy did it, and you'll be able to do it, too.'"
News stories say the addition will be paid for with money raised by the National Organization on Disability.
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