Bloomberg reported that more than 90 percent of U.S. nursing homes in each of the past three years were cited for violating federal standards, according to a government report. The article substantiates that many nursing homes are simply not doing an adequate job caring for our nations elderly population. According to the inspector general’s report for the Department of Health and Human Services:
- For-profit facilities had a higher percentage of violations than other nursing homes-94% of for-profit nursing homes surveyed were cited for deficiencies, compared to 88% of not-for- profit and 91% of government nursing homes
- The most common violations related to improper storage and distribution of food, accident hazards and lack of services necessary for residents’ mental and physical well-being
- The rate of violations differed by state, with every nursing facility surveyed in Alaska, the District of Columbia, Wyoming and Idaho reporting citations compared with a low of 76% in Rhode Island.
There are 1.5 million people living in 16,000 nursing homes in the United States. The facilities are reliant on government payments for the vast majority of their operating budget. In order for the facilities to be reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid, the nursing homes must be certified as meeting certain federal standards.
According to Susan Feeney, a spokeswoman for the American Health Care Association, a Washington advocacy group for 9,000 nursing homes, nursing home inspections are too subjective. “We’re looking to work with Congress and the administration to implement a process that’s less subjective and has incentives for quality improvement,” Feeney said.
Federal and state regulation of nursing homes provides essential guidelines for the safety and well-being of nursing home residents. In order to provide the safest environment for nursing home residents, all aspects of the facilities need to be properly monitored. Any efforts on the part of the nursing home industry to relax or eliminate the standards should be considered self-serving.