National Healthcare Corp., which owned the Nashville nursing home where 16 residents died in a fire five years ago, and the Tennessee Healthcare Associaton have given nearly $700,000 in election campaign cash since 2000. The bill's Senate sponsor, Jim Tracy, has raked in more than any other lawmaker. Along with Tennessee Health Management, which also is backing the bill, the groups are employing 31 lobbyists. At last report, they had spent upwards of $850,000 on all this lobbying. That money could go to improve care for nursing home residents, which in turn would reduce negligence lawsuits. But why do that when you can just ram a law through the legislature?
"It's obscene," says Tom Peters of Tennessee Citizen Action, which opposes the bill. "These legislators are putting a campaign contribution over someone's life."
Here are the bill's sponsors (the Terrific Ten, we're calling them): Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), Rep. John Lundberg (R-Bristol), Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), Rep. Vance Dennis (R-Savannah), Rep. Bill Harmon (D-Dunlap), Rep. Lois DeBerry (D-Memphis), Rep. Jason Mumpower (R-Bristol), Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Tullahoma), Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin), Rep. Joe Carr (R-Lascassas).