Politics is often a sickening business. A place where honesty, ethics, the public interest and conscience take a back seat to money, expediency, self-interest and cowardice. Money talks in politics – it is the fuel that drives it. And individual career interests are almost always the hands on the steering wheel, directing where something a given bill ends up. The realistic know this in the present; the idealistic will in the future.
But when the effort that is scuttled is a bill that would have increased the financial penalties that the state could slap scofflaw Massachusetts nursing home operators with – thus abandoning the weakest and most vulnerable members of the public – that is beyond sickening. You see, the Massachusetts Legislature seemed all set – in both the House and Senate – to include an amendment to the annual state budget, that would have empowered the state to do just that. The amendment was drafted and admirably lobbied for by state Sen. Mark Montigny of New Bedford. As a Massachusetts nursing home abuse attorney, I can assure you that he is to be hailed for that effort.
When Sen. Montigny attached the amendment a few months ago, appropriately named “Preventing Patient Abuse in Nursing Homes,” no one on Beacon Hill openly opposed it. Strategically, this is how it works – because any elected (or even appointed) official opposing such a laudable measure probably wouldn’t last too long in public life. But there were those in the legislature who opposed it – lurkign behind the scenes. They just kept their mouths shut until the “right time,” when they would act on behalf of their moneyed masters, otherwise known as nursing home lobbyists.