Two senate bills that would have required nursing homes in Mississippi to carry a minimum amount of $500,000 in liability insurance died at the committee deadline last week.
Senate Bill 2062 was double-referred to the Senate Insurance Committee and to the Public Health and Welfare Committee. SB 2248 went to Public Health and Welfare and to the Appropriations Committee. Both bills were authored by Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis.
This is the fourth year Baria has filed the legislation.
“Am I surprised it didn’t make it out? No,” Baria said. “There is just too much opposition from the industry. The nursing homes think they are being singled out, and that is just not the case. I do not see how this differs from car insurance.”
The Mississippi Health Care Association, a statewide trade group that advocates for nursing homes and personal care/assisted living facilities, has said the past few sessions that the bills mandating liability insurance are unnecessary.
“Currently, nursing homes, like every other healthcare provider, are not required to carry liability insurance, but the overwhelming majority of nursing homes do carry liability insurance,” John Maxey, the MHCA’s legal counsel, said in an email to the MBJ.
And obtaining liability insurance hasn’t been easy. Long-term care coverage makes up a small portion of the overall insurance market, much smaller than the automotive and home insurance markets. Insurers, according to industry policy briefs, have not developed the expertise related to long-term coverage that they have with their larger, more profitable sectors. As a result, an individual nursing home’s liability risks, including its liability loss history, quality and financial standing often have little bearing on their premiums.
“While this bill obviously singles out nursing homes in an unfair manner by not including other healthcare providers under its proposed mandate, it would have a serious financial impact not only on nursing homes because the insurance is so expensive, but also on our state’s Medicaid program,” Maxey said. “That’s because any legislation increasing the costs of operating a nursing home will be passed along to Medicaid, which in turn is a cost to taxpayers, and as we all know, Medicaid’s budget is squeezed enough as it is.”
Maxey added that the MHCA would not accept a lower minimum threshold because there is no evidence of a judgment against a nursing home not being paid because of a lack of liability insurance.
“The overwhelming majority of nursing homes already have liability coverage in place, and the remainder make provisions within their business model to satisfy any court-ordered financial obligation that might arise,” he wrote. “The reality is that there are practically no other businesses, including no other healthcare providers, that are mandated by the government to carry liability coverage.”
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