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April 27, 2015

Celebrating Our History and Honoring Our Gems 

As Consumer Voice celebrates our 40th anniversary we want to take this opportunity to reflect on our past and recognize the individuals who shaped our organization. In honor of the 40-year ruby anniversary we will highlight Consumer Voice’s Gems which include key leaders, organizations, and special moments that have made a significant impact on our organization’s development, mission, and advocacy.

This month's gem is the passage of the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 (OBRA 1987).

Betty Hamburger, former Consumer Voice president, presides over Capitol event in 1986 kicking off national campaign for nursing home reform.

Due to years of advocacy and coalition building regarding quality nursing home care, Consumer Voice was instrumental in the passage of the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act.

In 1986, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report titled, Improving the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes. The report examined the current nursing home regulatory system and found that the system was inadequate and facilities needed better regulation. In response to that report and to advocate in support of the suggested reforms, Elma Holder, Consumer Voice’s founder, launched the Campaign for Quality Care (CQC). CQC members included national organizations representing consumers, advocates, health care professionals, and providers that shared the common goal of improving nursing home care. Under the leadership and coordination of Consumer Voice, representatives of 22 national organizations met regularly for a year to review the findings of the IOM report and develop recommendations to present to Congress.

Consumer Voice presented the recommendations developed by the Campaign for Quality Care to Congress during a session hosted by Senator David Pryor, who helped craft the landmark nursing home reforms.

After the introduction of the Nursing Home Reform Act, comprised of amendments in the federal budget bill, the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA '87), Consumer Voice lead a national movement in support of passing the reforms. Representatives from Consumer Voice, the Campaign for Quality Care, and other national organizations testified in support of the reforms during hearings held by the congressional sponsors, Senator George Mitchell and Representatives John Dingell, Pete Stark, and Henry Waxman.

Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act, with bipartisan support, on December 22, 1986 and it was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. This legislation was the first major revision of the federal standards for nursing home care since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 and significantly changed society’s expectations and federal requirements for individualized, quality care. OBRA ’87 defined national minimum standards of care and residents’ rights for individuals living in certified nursing homes.

Thanks to the steadfast, unified advocacy from consumers, advocates, providers, and health care professionals, the leadership and coalition building of Consumer Voice, and congressional champions, this historic legislation established  residents’ rights and required that nursing homes provide care to ensure that EACH resident can “attain or maintain her highest practicable physical, mental, and psycho-social well-being.”

In honor of Residents’ Rights Month and in celebration of the federal nursing home residents’ rights established in OBRA ’87, we invite and encourage consumers of long-term care services and supports to participate in the 2015 Residents’ Voice Challenge. Visit this page for submission guidelines and share this opportunity with consumers using this flyer.

Visit our website for more information about OBRA ’87, federal nursing home residents’ rights, and Consumer Voice history.

We invite you to join us in celebrating 40 years of making quality care matter by signing this e-card, sending a congratulatory message to info@theconsumervoice.org, becoming a member, and/or supporting our current and future work with a contribution.

Also make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and visit our 40th Anniversary webpage for additional information and opportunities to celebrate with us.

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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care - 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 425 - Washington, DC 20036 - telephone: (202) 332-2275 - fax: (202) 403-3473 - info@theconsumervoice.org