Nursing Home Neglect Prevention Laws Paused By CMS, Advocates Fear Rollback

In another concerning move to rollback regulations designed to protect Americans, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it is freezing or rolling back new enforcement procedures, which were designed to address nursing home neglect problems nationwide. 

In a memorandum (PDF) issued on November 24, CMS told state survey agency directors that it was placing a temporary moratorium on enforcement procedures put into place by the Obama administration.

The memorandum indicates that the moratorium will last for at least 18 months, and will be used to educate facilities about the new standards. It also freezes health inspection star ratings and will not incorporate surveys from over the last year into those ratings.

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The memo further indicates that the methodology for its Nursing Home Compare ratings will be based on the two most recent cycles of both health inspection findings and the two most recent years of complaint inspections.

The new requirements, which strengthened inspection standards and the CMS’s rating system, were designated to go into effect by November 28, in what was the first major changes to long-term care requirements since 1991.

A number of prominent patient advocacy and watchdog groups, including the Center for Medicare Advocacy, say that the move is part of an effort to roll back Obama-era rules that would have made nursing home residents safer and protected them from abuse, understaffing and other problems.

CMS has already rolled back plans to charge nursing homes for violations per instance, as opposed to the current system which charges them with fines on a per-day basis. This latest move appears to be a precursor to rolling back the intended enforcement and rating changes, following pressure from nursing home industry lobbyists.

CMS is responsible for the monitoring nursing homes as part of reimbursement for care provided to millions of Americans. The agency is also responsible for tracking facilities that have a high probability of nursing home abuse and neglect, and taking appropriate actions against those facilities, such as denying medicare reimbursements.

Many patients and families face uncertain nursing home standards when searching for a long-term care facility. Care may be lacking for a number of reasons, including nursing home neglect, abuse, malnutrition, and injuries from falls.


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