Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bill would regulate nursing home violation adverts

The state Senate passed a bill that would mandate how information about a nursing home’s safety and health violations could be advertised by a 25-13 vote Monday.

Senate Bill 205 would require that advertisements of nursing home inspection results also prominently include the date of any deficiencies found, the plan to correct them and whether they were corrected. The measure also calls for a disclaimer that the advertisement wasn’t endorsed by a government entity.

Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, characterized SB 205 as a “truth in advertising” measure. He said “deep pocket attorneys” are taking out misleading advertisements “fishing for clients” in Kentucky.

“This bill is not in any way trying to limit a law firm’s ability to file suit in any of these circumstances,” said Carroll, who introduced the bill. “It is simply about fairness in advertising and nothing more.”

Senate Minority Floor Leader Ray S. Jones II, D-Pikeville, said it is an unconstitutional bill “that is blatantly in violation of the First Amendment.”  He added that if lawyers were taking out truly misleading advertisements, they could be sued for defamation.

“If you want to make it fair, when a nursing home advertises, maybe they should be required to disclose their infection rates, the rates of pressure sores, the mortality rate from facility-acquired infections,” he said, before reading excerpts from nursing home inspection reports that described deplorable conditions.

Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, said he supported SB 205 after witnessing a nursing home in his district get targeted by misleading advertisements. He said the advertisement listed deficiencies without stating they were from 2013, had long been corrected and that the nursing home had a new owner with a history of no safety or health violations.

SB 205 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.