The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) announced it will launch a ‘comprehensive review’ of nursing home regulations across the country. According to Health Leaders Media, CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced the new initiative last week in response to mounting criticism by states and federal legislators. Administrator Verma said the government agency will seek $45 million in additional funding from Congress for its review.
CMS says the review will focus on several primary areas. First, CMS will work with state agencies across the country to strengthen oversight of the country’s nursing homes. According to CMS, federal and state agencies will work together to ensure CMS health and safety requirements are being followed and ever nursing home is inspected at least once a year. Second, the federal agency plans to increase enforcement of nursing homes by, according to Administrator Verma, “developing new ways to root out bad actors and repeat offenders.” Administrator Verma says nursing homes with insufficient nursing staff will be targeted will begin receiving more “unannounced inspections” to encourage compliance. Finally, nursing homes will now be more severely penalized for poor patient outcomes and less severely penalized for failing to follow CMS protocols. In addition to improving outcomes for current nursing home patients, the focus on patient outcomes will also be more helpful to prospective nursing home residents by providing a more meaningful metric to judge nursing homes.
The federal agency will also improve several of its own processes. Administrator Verma announced an increased push for transparency during her discussion on nursing home oversight. Going forward, CMS will now publicize whenever it “terminates agreements with nursing homes due to poor quality” on its website. Previously, CMS announced the changes in local newspapers. Further, CMS also plans to decrease the amount of paperwork required by nursing homes. The nursing home industry has long complained about what it views as excessive paperwork and bureaucracy.
While the details are still scarce, the planned overhaul of nursing home regulation is long overdue. Describing the ambitious overhaul, Administrator Verma succinctly described the efforts as “developing our regulatory strategy in a way that puts patient quality and safety first while removing burdens on providers that create staffing challenges and increase cost without increasing quality.” Hopefully, the “comprehensive overview” of regulations at the agency finally leads to improved care for nursing home patients.