CMS Starts Fining Nursing Home Staff for Failing to Report Elder Abuse

CMS is preparing to fine nursing home staff and volunteers for refusing to report elder abuse, the agency announced. While the federal agency has been able to fine nursing homes for failing to report abuse, a recent government report showed that crimes against the elderly are still commonplace in nursing homes across the country. The report chided CMS, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, for failing to protect America’s senior citizens and recommended aggressive action.

A federal law enacted in 2011 gives CMS the authority to fine individual staff and volunteers at nursing homes across the country, according to Modern Healthcare. The government agency said it will begin seeking civil monetary penalties (or CMPs) of up to $200,000 for staff and volunteers who fail to “report reasonable suspicion of crimes.” The proposed regulation would also protect “whistleblowers” by withdrawing all federal funds from any nursing homes who retaliate against them.

CMS admitted in the federal report by the HHS Office of Inspector General that the agency had not implemented the seven-year-old law. According to federal government officials, CMS was waiting until the HHS Secretary formally delegated the enforcement power to the agency. The report’s scathing indictment of the federal health agency’s failure to prevent elder abuse and protect nursing home residents prompted CMS to move forward with the law’s implementation. After releasing a completed draft of the new regulations, the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback to the agency. After taking those comments into consideration, CMS will publish the regulations and finally begin enforcing this important law.

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