AARP May Help Nursing Home Industry Block Lawsuits

AARP may join forces with Florida nursing home owners who are seeking greater protection against abuse and neglect lawsuits, according to an article in Tampa Bay Online.

The powerful lobbying group is working with the nursing home industry on legislation that would place caps on jury awards, making it less likely that nursing home residents will file lawsuits.

An AARP spokesperson confirmed that the group might agree to the jury award limits in return for specific industry reforms, including a crackdown on nursing homes that continually violate state standards of care. The legislation could be introduced in the Florida legislature in March.

This would be a striking policy reversal for AARP. In its 2003 policy book, AARP says it is important that individuals have the ability ``to seek redress for violations of rights by bringing suit on their behalf.''

Thousands of AARP members have cancelled their memberships after the organization threw its considerable weight '“ and $7 million in advertising dollars '“ behind the Medicare bill that President Bush recently signed into law. AARP's support was seen as key to the bill's passage. While the legislation offers Medicare beneficiaries a limited prescription drug benefit, many observers, including most Democrats, see it as a huge giveaway to drug companies and HMOs. (For an article on the legislation, click here.)

AARP could see a similar rebellion in its Florida ranks if members feel the leadership is caving to pressure from nursing homes to limit court access for residents and their families, according to the article.

To read the full Tampa Bay Online article, go to: