Imbalanced Commission Report Does Not Do Enough to Make Nursing Homes Responsible for Resident Safety and Quality of Life

From Justice in Aging: For Entire Post, Go Here…

SEPTEMBER 2020

Summary

Justice in Aging Directing Attorney Eric Carlson served on the Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. He did not endorse the Final Report, because of its imbalance. The Final Report recommends dozens of obligations for the federal government, but does little to set higher standards for nursing homes, or to ensure nursing home accountability.

Eric Carlson’s Dissenting Statement

The Commission’s Final Report makes 27 Principal Recommendations, with over 100 action steps. With limited exceptions, these recommendations and action steps do not address accountability of nursing homes and their hoperators. The result is an imbalanced report that gives a misleading impression of CMS’s role.

In the longstanding and appropriate model, CMS funds nursing home care (through Medicare and Medicaid payment) and enforces the quality of care standards of the federal Nursing Home Reform Law. Nursing homes have responsibility for training their own staff, with occasional assistance from federally funded Quality Improvement Organizations.

For years, nursing home lobbyists have attempted to degrade this model. They characterize improved quality of care standards as “unfunded mandates,” even though Medicare and Medicaid payment rates are designed to be all-inclusive. Also, they criticize the supposed “punitive” nature of CMS’s system to penalize violations of the Nursing Home Reform Law, and argue that surveyors should consult with and “assist” facilities rather than enforce the federal requirements. These types of arguments, unfortunately, have found their way into some of the Final Report’s recommendations.

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