Using as their point of departure the proposed nursing home standards recently published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the authors discuss the dilemma of regulating for human rights. Provisions considered for inclusion in the regulations are discussed in light of positions taken by regulators, providers and consumers. By highlighting the trade-offs involved, the authors point out the limitations of regulation in this emotion-laden area.

Former Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris approved a final version of human rights provisions on her last day in office. However, in his first official act, her successor withdrew that approval.

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