With Fewer Fines from Medicare, Nursing Homes are Under Less Pressure to Report Accidents and Neglect

Early in 2018, the Trump administration reduced the use of fines against nursing homes in which nursing home neglect takes place. Supporters of the new policy say that the previous guidelines, which were introduced during the Obama administration, force nursing homes to commit too much time and too many financial resources to answering to regulators, pushing them into a vicious cycle of understaffing and an increased number of incidents of neglect. Opponents of the policy, however, say that removal of the fines will allow nursing home neglect to continue unchecked and will leave nursing homes with little incentive to observe proper safety and patient care procedures.

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Changes in Nursing Home Regulation That Have Taken Place in the Past Year

Many patients in nursing homes in California, as well as in other states, have their nursing home stays paid for in whole or in part by Medicare. Depending on the type of violation, Medicare can impose fines in various ways. It can impose a flat-rate fine, such as for a one-time accident such as a patient suffering a broken bone in a fall. In can impose a daily fine for each day that the nursing home is in violation of standards. For example, if inspectors find that the nursing home has an insufficient number of wheelchair ramps, they can impose a fine each day until the nursing home shows proof that it has built the proper number of wheelchair ramps. Instead of a daily fine, it can also refuse to pay for new patients to enter the nursing home until the violation is fixed.

Since Trump took office, the following policies have changes related to fines for nursing home violations.

  • In October 2017, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) cautioned against fines for one-time violations, effectively giving nursing homes a chance to fix the violation before being charged a penalty.
  • A July 2017 memo from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services argued in favor of one-time fines instead of daily fines, even for ongoing violations.
  • In November 2017, CMS extended an 18-month grace period for violations of eight safety rules, including those related to smoking, psychotropic drugs, behavioral health services, and the Antibiotic Stewardship Program.

A Nursing Home Neglect Lawyer can Help Protect Your Family Members from Nursing Home Neglect

Regardless of whether you believe that Medicare fines are ineffective at preventing nursing home neglect or whether you fear that the looser restrictions will make nursing home neglect more widespread, you still have legal recourse to protect your family members from preventable accidents and substandard care in nursing homes. The first step could be to contact a personal injury lawyer and see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.

Contact Case Barnett About Nursing Home Abuse Cases

Nursing home regulation policies change all the time, but you always have legal recourse in the event of nursing home neglect. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California to discuss your case.

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