Report: CMS Broke Own Rules To Let Failing Nursing Homes
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 31, 2006
WASHINGTON, DC--The federal agency that oversees the safety and well-being of nursing home residents failed to follow its own rules -- more than half of the time -- when it came to penalizing facilities that put their residents at risk of harm.
The results came in a 32-page report published last month by Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service.
In reviewing data from the period from 2000 through 2002, Levinson's office found that 55 percent of the time CMS did not terminate contracts -- as required by law -- with facilities that failed to return to "substantial compliance" of safety standards within 6 months of being cited for deficiencies, or 23 days of being cited for conditions that put residents in "immediate jeopardy" of actual or potential death or serious injury.
Additionally, all of the nursing homes that were allowed to continue their contracts without penalty were later referred by their states to the federal government for further action, the agency's internal watchdog found.
The report also noted that in 2002, CMS failed 28 percent of the time to deny payments for new admissions for facilities that were out of compliance as required by law. Even after CMS relaxed the rules for 2003 and 2004, many states still did not report in a timely manner nursing homes that should have been penalized.
One of the primary reasons state and CMS regional officials gave for failing to follow the regulations quickly enough was that they were worried people would have been displaced from facilities that might have needed a few extra days to comply. Some other problems were blamed on bureaucratic slow-downs.
"Nursing Home Enforcement: Application of Mandatory Remedies" (Office of the Inspector General -- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)