For WFPL Public Radio
Published THU FEBRUARY 28, 2013
By RAE HODGE
FRANKFORT — More than 100 senior citizens and advocates rallied Thursday at the Capitol Rotunda in support of several bills before the Kentucky General Assembly—and against one bill in particular.
They urged Kentucky lawmakers to oppose legislation that creates a panel to review lawsuits against nursing homes and requires those filing suits to pay fees to submit their case to the panel, said Cathy Murphy, associate state director for the AARP.
The demonstrators said that, if passed, Senate Bill 9 would make it harder for seniors to sue nursing homes that abuse or neglect residents.
“We rank one of the worst in the nation in quality,” Murphy said. “We rank the highest in fines. And the talk about the frivolous lawsuits. I’ve not seen any evidence whatsoever, and the families that I know that have had a lawsuit would not call it frivolous.”
The residents would also have to pay filing and processing fees in order to submit their case to the panel, Barbara Gordon, an advocate who participated in the rally.
“Now, they present this under the guise of quote-unquote tort reform, but bottom line is if they’re going to do that it needs to be balanced. It needs to be fair, and the burden should not be on the resident,” Gordon says.
But supporters of the bill point out that patients and their families could still sue despite the panel’s review and that Kentucky over-litigates such cases.
Senate Bill 9 has cleared the state Senate and now awaits hearing the state House Health and Welfare Committee.
Supporters of the legislation have released radio ads encouraging the House committee to consider it.