LeadingAge Speaks Up for Nursing Homes

Legislation | September 11, 2018 | by Barbara Gay

Following up on a House subcommittee hearing, Examining Federal Efforts to Ensure Quality of Care and Resident Safety in Nursing Homes, LeadingAge urged legislators to recognize progress achieved in the quality of nursing home care and to give credit to nursing homes for their achievements.

The subcommittee hearing featured only three witnesses, representing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Government Accountability Office, and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. The subcommittee's announcement of the hearing discussed the deaths in the Hollywood Hills nursing home in Florida following Hurricane Irma and recent press reports on alleged "discrepancies" between nursing home staffing levels reported before and after the roll-out of the payroll-based journal system (PBJ).

In our statement to the subcommittee, we pointed out that subsequent to the Hollywood Hills tragedy, CMS finalized the disaster preparedness rule that requires nursing homes to develop all-hazards disaster preparedness plans and to ensure that staff are fully trained on the plan.

We also discussed the background to PBJ, that it was adopted to increase the accuracy of reporting, and that going forward it should show more continuity in staffing levels. We also pointed to technical difficulties both nursing homes and CMS have experienced with the program.

Some subcommittee members had expressed continuing concerns about the current moratorium on the imposition of civil monetary penalties for deficiencies cited under Phase II of the requirements of participation. We argued once again that the moratorium is temporary, that it applies to only new requirements under Phase II, and those deficiencies cited under Phase II are still subject to remedies other than civil monetary penalties.

In closing, we pointed out the progress that has been made over the last several years on nursing home quality and the investment of time, money, and human capital that has enabled nursing homes to achieve this success. We urged the subcommittee to recognize that nursing homes are the ones who do the hard work of figuring out better ways of providing care and services, training staff, and revising organizational operations. Nursing homes deserve the credit for progress that has been achieved and we will continue doing everything possible to see that they get it.