Nursing Home Truth in Advertising Passes Virginia General Assembly

All adult care communities in Virginia should thank their representatives in the Virginia General Assembly for passing the Nursing Home Truth in Advertising legislation on March 8, 2019. The Act makes it a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act for anyone to use the results of inspections, investigations, or surveys of nursing homes or certified nursing facilities in advertisements for professional services unless the advertisement includes the following:

  • Date of the survey, investigation, or inspection
  • Statement that the facility is required to submit a plan of correction in response to deficiency findings
  • Statement that a finding or deficiency has been corrected and when
  • Statement that the advertisement is not endorsed by the CMS, Virginia Health Department, OIG or any other governmental agency

The Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA) now includes violations of the Nursing Home Truth in Advertising legislation as violations of the VCPA. The VCPA’s definitional section added transactions involving advertisement of legal services that contain information about results of state or federal surveys, inspections, or investigations of nursing facilities as laid out in the Nursing Home Truth in Advertising legislation.

This legislation means that we can stop grinding our teeth over the one-page newspaper solicitation ads from plaintiff law firms in Florida and other states that display survey findings in a misleading manner. Skilled nursing facilities now have available to them the power of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, violations of which allow for three times the loss sustained, in cases of willful violations, and payment of attorney fees and costs.

Having defended against many VCPA claims, it is a pleasure to see my clients as beneficiaries of this powerful Act. From this point forward, I recommend that any facility targeted by these nefarious advertisements send a notice to the attorneys so treble damages become available should the advertisements continue.