An aide to Governor Culver says the governor’s hearing from supporters and opponents of a proposal that would eliminate some fines for nursing home violations. The measure would forgive certain violations if a nursing home identifies an error on its own and corrects it before an inspection.
David Werning of the Department of Inspections and Appeals says his agency lobbied against the idea when it was pending in the legislature.
"We gave it our best attempt to inform the legislators as to what our concerns were with the bill. It’s the will of the legislature, if you want to put it that way now, that the bill came out the way it did," Werning says. "We have to kind of now wait to see if the governor agrees with the legislators."
While Werning and other Department of Inspections and Appeals officials aren’t publicly urging the governor to veto the proposal, Werning says they’re worried that if it becomes law, some nursing home residents might be put at risk.
"Our job is to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents of nursing homes," Werning says. "We definitely have concern."
Officials at the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs say fines against nursing homes in Iowa are already lower than in any other Midwestern state and, unlike their counterparts at the Department of Inspections and Appeals, they’re publicly urging the governor to veto the idea. John McCalley, the director of the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs, says nursing homes might never been fined even for an error that caused substantial harm to a resident if nursing home managers correct the error before an inspection.
The proposal is part of the largest and the last bill to clear the legislature, a bill that includes a wide variety of spending initiatives as well as this proposed change in nursing home fines.