LANSING — Michigan House Democrats voted for proposals Wednesday night that take steps toward improving the quality of care problems caused by privatization at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. Two audits of the Grand Rapids facility have found widespread problems at the home following the privatization of direct care workers, including chronic understaffing, unanswered patient location or fall alerts and the failure of the home to follow up on allegations of neglect and abuse.
“When it comes to caring for our veterans, we must never accept abuse, neglect or substandard care,” House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) said. “This package of bills will go a long way toward addressing the problems that have plagued the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans ever since patient care services were privatized, and will help assure veterans that these conditions won’t recur at state-run veterans homes.”
House Democrats have worked to improve conditions at the Grand Rapids home for nearly four years. Following the release of the second critical audit of the home, a bipartisan work group suggested several improvements that would have ensured that veterans received the quality of care they earned. The bills voted on Wednesday — Senate Bills 1097-1100 — contain many of those suggestions, and will require all future contracts at the homes to use state workers.
“It was utterly unacceptable to put the profits of corporations ahead of the needs of our veterans, many of whom incurred lifelong injuries while serving us,” said state Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio). “I’m grateful that the Legislature has learned from that mistake, and that moving forward, our veterans will know that only the most qualified and most competent care takers will be working at the state-run homes that serve them.”
House Democrats said they will continue to fight for Michigan veterans into the next term.
“Honoring our veterans means doing more than simply saying ‘Thanks for your service,’” said state Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights), who is the Democratic vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Military and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. “We have to show we are serious by never compromising on their health care or the programs that serve them. The House Democrats are committed to making sure all of our veterans get the care and services they’ve earned, and we will continue to work hard for them in the coming years.”
“As a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I know just how hard the men and women who wore our uniform worked for our country, and the sacrifices they made,” said state Rep. David Rutledge (D-Ypsilanti), Democratic vice chairman of the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “I have always fought for the best care for our veterans, and it is gratifying to see the Legislature come together to do what’s right for them. I’m glad to have been able to vote on these bills.”