- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 25, 2018

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Nursing home opposition hasn’t slowed a proposal to let Louisiana families install video camera systems in their loved ones’ nursing home rooms. Instead, some state senators seemed incredulous Wednesday at the objections raised by the Louisiana Nursing Home Association.

Supporters of the House-backed bill by Rep. Kirk Talbot, a River Ridge Republican, said it would give family members the ability to monitor their loved ones from afar.

But the nursing home organization raised concerns that live-streamed video could be hacked, facilities’ private medical records could be targeted and privacy could be threatened.

“I mean, really?” said Sen. Norby Chabert, a Houma Republican who pushed back against the claims.

Chabert said the nursing homes’ opposition seemed to suggest they don’t want people to be able to see their family members in real time.

“That’s kind of fishy to me,” he said.

Mark Berger, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, said several states have rejected laws that allow for electronic monitoring because of the concerns that live feeds were at risk of compromise.

“If the video is transmitted, it could fall and be shared in the wrong hands,” Berger said.

Members of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee seemed largely unpersuaded by the arguments, at least not enough to stall the bill.

Sen. Jay Luneau, an Alexandria Democrat, sought to rewrite the proposal with nursing home association-supported amendments, but he faced resistance to the long list of changes.

The Senate committee advanced the measure without the rewrite. Senators said they’d try to work out language to address some of the nursing homes’ concerns on the Senate floor.

Among those pushing the legislation is Lucie Titus, who said her mother, an Alzheimer’s patient, was unable to explain injuries she suffered in a Slidell nursing home. Titus asked to install a video camera system in her mother’s room and was rebuffed by home administrators. She believes if she could have seen what caused her mother’s injuries, treatment could have been quicker and involved less pain.

Titus filed a lawsuit to set up the video monitoring, but her 92-year-old mother died in November 2017 before the issue was resolved.

Under the legislation, the cameras would be voluntary. The costs would have to be paid by the nursing home patient or family member. Any roommate - or a legal guardian - would have to agree to the camera installation. Nursing homes would be prohibited from ousting or retaliating against residents who choose to install the monitoring device.

The House unanimously supported the proposal. Sen. Dan Claitor suggested the nursing home association should work with senators to improve the measure, not try to sink it.

“It’s something you can offer your people that they want,” the Baton Rouge Republican said.

When the nursing homes raised objections to the live-feed, Claitor pointed out such video monitoring is allowed in kennels: “Can’t you do that for your dog right now?”

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House Bill 281: www.legis.la.gov

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