State-Regulated Homes Criticized for Lack of Transparency

Though the skilled nursing industry has received its fair share of criticism related to issues of neglect and abuse, the space is currently coming under less fire than some state-regulated group homes.

In most U.S. states, the details of investigations into neglect and abuse at state-regulated group homes are almost never publicly available, according a report from The Associated Press.

That’s the case in New York, where it’s allegedly easier to read the health records of neighborhood restaurants than to find out about care issues at state-regulated facilities.

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Though many states provide a wealth of information about skilled nursing facilities and hospitals, the majority are tight-lipped when it comes to information on the care of disabled individuals in state-regulated facilities, Robyn Grant, director of public policy at the Washington-based advocacy group National Consumer Voice For Quality Long-Term Care, told the AP.

There aren’t any consistent disclosure rules, and in several states reports are “redacted to a ridiculous point, to a point where the sentences don’t make any sense,” Grant said.

In Florida, for instance, officials regularly point to privacy laws as reasons to withhold details about the deaths of individuals under state care—despite Florida having one of the most open government records policies in the country.

New York’s Justice Center for the Protection of People With Special Needs oversees all of the neglect and abuse probes into the the facilities regulated by the state.

The Justice Center cannot release detailed information on its cases, even with identifying material redacted, due to federal and state rules involving personnel and medical privacy, as well as law enforcement investigations, Justice Center spokesman William Reynolds told AP.

That’s not a good enough explanation for some.

“What the hell are they hiding?” said Harvey Weisenberg, a former state lawmaker who has a disabled son, to the AP. “They won’t tell the public, or anybody for that matter, what they’re doing.”

Read the full AP story here.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson