New Rules Proposed to Strengthen Nursing Home Oversight

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When a family places a relative in a long-term assisted care facility or nursing home, they want to feel reassured that their loved one’s safety and health is a number one priority. Unfortunately, rates of nursing home neglect and abuse in South Carolina and across the nation are disturbingly high. More than 13 percent of America’s population is aged 65 or older, and seniors who are placed in residential settings that offer long-term care are at greater risk for abuse, considering they are dependent on staff for daily needs including medicine, food, bathing, and assistance with virtually every task.

President Barack Obama and his administration are hoping to enhance the lives of this vulnerable group, with new rules for the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) designed to improve the overall quality of care received by Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in nursing homes. The proposals, according to an announcement by President Obama, are an essential component of the administration’s work to realize far-reaching advancements in the quality of medical care offered through federal programs.

Administration aims to strengthen nursing home oversight

The CMS is our nation’s biggest payer of long-term health care services. The American Health Care Association reports that Medicaid pays for the health care services of around 65 percent of all nursing home residents, and an additional 14 percent are covered by Medicare. The proposed rules, if confirmed, would come at a hefty price to nursing homes. During the first year, long-term care facilities would pay $729 million to be in compliance with the new regulations, and another $638 million the following year.

A few of the proposed changes include:

  • Ensuring that staff are properly trained to care for patients suffering from dementia and in preventing elder abuse.
  • Mandating that a pharmacist review a resident’s medical chart for new residents and at a minimum of every 6 months thereafter.
  • Adding a requisite competency obligation for determining adequate nursing staff based on a facility assessment
  • Conduct a facility-wide evaluation to decide what resources are needed to care for its residents competently during both day-to-day operations and emergencies
  • Strengthening the rights of residents by placing limits on when and how binding arbitration agreements can be utilized

The Long Term Care Community Coalition saw many of these changes as a step in a positive direction but was disappointed that mandatory staffing minimums weren’t included considering the high rate of turnover among nursing home employees, who commonly suffer burnout.

Richard Mollot, executive director of National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, voiced concerns over anti-psychotic use in assisted living care facilities, stating that more controls were needed to ensure patients aren’t needlessly prescribed these powerful drugs. This has been a huge problem in many nursing homes, where some elders have died or suffered stroke after being given anti-psychotics to control agitation or aggressive behavior resulting from dementia.

SC nursing home abuse lawyer offers legal assistance

The Jeffcoat Firm applauds these efforts to improve the quality of care for our senior nursing home residents. Such measures are long overdue given the greater numbers of nursing homes that are driven purely by profits.

If you suspect that a family member or loved one has suffered any type of emotional, physical or financial abuse or neglect in a nursing home or long-term care facility, we can explain your legal rights. Discuss your concerns with leading SC personal injury lawyer, The Jeffcoat Firm, and learn more about pursuing a nursing home abuse lawsuit in South Carolina. The case evaluation is free, and we only collect legal fees if you settle or win your claim.

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