This column is article 2 of a two part series. Here is part 1.
The question became where Thompson and the producers were heading with their work? One could conclude that they made up their minds early on that they had an agenda. In fact, Rick Grimes from ALFA stated when he was interviewed by Thompson for the Frontline show that “I believe he came with an agenda, not just seeking facts.” Grimes’ association favors strong state regulation. When asked by Thompson why they favor state regulation, Grimes told him “That is where the people live. The states should regulate the industry. We have worked extensively with the states to enhance state regulation.” Mr. Grimes’ interview was never shown or published.
One that was published was the interview of Mark Parkinson, President and CEO of American Health Care Association and former Governor of Kansas. A large portion of the interview was oriented by questioning from Thompson about establishing federal regulation. Parkinson and his organization also favor state regulation. He stated “I really would think as a consumer, as a person whose mother-in-law right now is in an assisted living facility, I’m really more comfortable with this being handled at the state level than at the federal level.” In fact, the entirety of the interview with Mr. Parkinson was arguing for federal regulation.
In our interview of Patricia McGinnis, Executive Director of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), she stated she did not believe federal regulation would occur. But a significant portion of Thompson’s questions during her interview were oriented toward federal regulation. Professor Hawes, the chosen academic for the piece, was intimately involved in the establishment of national regulation of Nursing Homes. Her expertise lies more with the Nursing Home industry than Assisted Living, but she was involved in this piece based on her background.
We interviewed both Hawes and McGinnis and must say they were very cooperative. They both stated they refused to criticize the Frontline piece or Thompson for his work or state that the work distorted the view of assisted living. They both stated there was good work going on at the state level in regard to regulation, but it could improve. McGinnis particularly cited five states, which includes Ohio and Wisconsin, that have consumer information on websites regarding assisted living facilities in their states.