Nursing home liability bill met formidable political end

Mississippi nursing homes still have the right to operate with little or no liability insurance, thanks to the state Senate.

The House passed House Bill 536 with bipartisan Republican support in that chamber. But the bill was killed in the Senate Insurance Committee, dying in Senate Insurance Committee Chairman Buck Clarke’s pocket.

Why? Because the nursing home operators, their lobbyists and the insurance industry have vast influence in the Legislature.

House Bill 536 would have reqired non-government nursing homes to carry the same $500,000 in liability coverage that government nursing homes carry. Nursing homes owned by county hospitals or other entities covered by the State Tort Claims Board are covered for legal claims up to the statutory cap of $500,000 if a jury finds that a patient has been abused, neglected or otherwise sufficiently harmed in a covered facility. Yet a number of private nursing homes in Mississippi do not carry liability insurance sufficient to cover claims up to the statutory $500,000 cap.

Sid Salter
3/17/10