The National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR), a grass roots foundation dedicated to the improvement of long-term care across the county, has put its support behind the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act (S. 2641). The Nursing Home Transparency Act is the first major piece of legislation directed to the quality of care for nursing home resident since creation of the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987.
As the name implies, the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act provides essential information for nursing home residents and their families when choosing a facility and while monitoring the quality of care received during a stay. The new act would also provide all the relevant information on a convenient website.
The Act would make the following important nursing home changes, according to the NCCNHR:
- Disclosure of nursing home ownership and management. Corporations would be required to disclose their owners, operators, financers, and other related parties. Facilities that were part of chains would be required to submit annual audits. Purchasers would have to demonstrate that they were financially able to run facilities.
- Abolish mandatory arbitration clauses from all long-term care facilities.
- Require disclosure of how Medicare and Medicaid funds are spent. Providers would have to report wage and benefit expenditures for nursing staff on cost reports. Cost reports would be revised to categorize spending for direct care, such as nursing and therapies; indirect care, such as housekeeping and dietary services; capital costs, including buildings and land; and administrative costs, which often include the company’s profits.
- Establish independent monitoring of chains. The federal government would develop a protocol for an independent monitor of chains to analyze their financial performance, management, expenditures, and nurse staffing levels. It would provide for corrective action and collection of civil monetary penalties.
- Collect accurate information about nurse staffing. The government would collect data electronically from nursing homes on the number of RNs, LPNs, and nursing assistants, using payroll records and contracts with temporary agencies as the source. Data would include turnover and retention rates and hours of care per resident provided by each category of worker.
- Provide better public information about nursing homes. Nursing Home Compare would be updated with more timely reporting of surveys; ownership information; accurate nurse staffing data, including turnover and retention rates; links to survey reports (Form 2567) when states put them on-line; enforcement actions; and all Special Focus Facilities identified for three years.
- Information on nursing homes would be accessible on a centralized website. Implement new consumer complaint processes The government would develop a standardized form consumers could use in filing complaints with the state regulatory agency or ombudsman. States would be required to establish a complaint resolution process for residents’ representatives who were retaliated against, including denied access to residents, if they complained about quality of care or other issues.
- Provide for higher civil monetary penalties. Since the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, there has been no increase in the penalties assessed nursing home for violations. Then new law would fine nursing homes – up to $100,000 in the case of a resident’s death. Fines would be held in escrow during appeals of deficiencies, no longer delayed until appeals were resolved. Federal CMP funds, which are now returned to the U.S. Treasury, are encouraged to be used for the benefit of residents.
- Provide for reporting of closures and continuation of federal payments. Nursing homes would be required to give 60 days notice of closure, including a relocation plan and assurances that residents would be transferred to the most appropriate facility or other setting. No new residents could be admitted after the notice was given, and the federal government could continue Medicare and Medicaid funding for residents until relocation was completed.
- Authorize studies of temporary management; special focus facilities; culture change; and nurse aide training. The bill provides for studies of temporary management; the characteristics of Special Focus Facilities, including ownership; best practices in culture change; and training of nurse aides and supervisors. Dementia management would be added to the initial 75-hour nurse aide.
Contact your legislator today and let them know you support the Nursing Home Transparency Act. You can visit the NCCNHR website to find more information about the Nursing Home Transparency Act. It is a great piece of legislation and gives the elderly far more power than they currently have.