Murphy seeks federal oversight of group homes

By:  Lee Howard
The Day

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said Thursday he intends to file legislation in the coming months to help stop group-home abuse of people with developmental disabilities nationwide.

Murphy's statement followed a new investigation released Thursday by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department's Office of the Inspector General about abuse in Massachusetts group homes. In May, another report critical of the state Department of Developmental Services pointed out widespread problems in Connecticut.

"What's clear from this report is that widespread negligence and abuse is a problem in Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and I know other states around the country," said Murphy, a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. "It's time for the federal government to step in."

Murphy, D-Conn., called for the investigations in 2013 after a series of stories appeared in The Hartford Courant documenting a range of problems at private group homes, especially their failure to report critical incidents to the state. The May audit found that 76 people had died of abuse or neglect in Connecticut group homes, nursing facilities, hospitals and state-run institutions, including several who choked to death despite protocols that should have addressed the issue and others who received inadequate medical care.

“Later this year, I will introduce legislation to address these unacceptable issues," Murphy said. "There must be mandatory training for staff, including ongoing online training; more rigorous mandatory reporting requirements; increased access to Medicaid claims data for state agencies to create additional safeguards for residents who slip through the cracks, and a universal standard of critical incidents to clear up what seems like widespread misinterpretation of what must be reported.”