CMS Reverses Obama Policy on Nursing Home Quality Enforcement

by David Goldfarb

The Center for Medicare Advocacy reports that on June 15, 2018, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized proposed changes to Obama-era policy on nursing home quality enforcement. According to the Center and other resident advocacy groups, these changes will likely lead to a greater risk of resident harm. The changes to the policy under the Obama administration include the following:

  • Creating a distinction between different types of immediate jeopardy that federal regulations do not recognize
  • CMS Regional Offices are allowed to lower Civil Money Penalties for violations
  • CMS Regional Offices may select remedies for deficiencies without regard to the severity and scope of the facility’s noncompliance
  • CMS Regional Offices will have discretion in deciding whether to apply immediate imposition of remedies at all for noncompliance

You can view the Quality, Safety & Oversight letter that made the proposed changes final here.

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Can Be Legally Actionable

While this move will certainly result in relaxed nursing homes regulation on a federal level, residents and their loved ones should keep in mind that lessened enforcement does not mean that long-term care facilities are free to engage in abuse or neglect. While the government may provide less oversight regarding quality, nursing homes still have a duty to provide their residents with adequate care and hire qualified staff. If they fail to do so, they can often be held liable through a civil lawsuit. Some examples of nursing home abuse or neglect that could be legally actionable include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Verbal abuse
  • Failure to provide medical care
  • Failure to provide sanitary living conditions
  • Failure to administer medications
  • Failure to provide adequate food or water
  • Failure to monitor a resident’s health
  • Failure to diagnose emergent medical conditions or diseases

If you believe that you or a loved one was neglected or abused at a nursing home, it is critical that you take steps to protect your rights. Bring the matter to the attention of the facility’s administration and make a complaint with the New York State Department of Health. If there is physical evidence of the abuse or neglect, take pictures of it and make sure to have an independent physician look at any injuries. Finally, call an experienced elder care lawyer as soon as you can.

Call Goldfarb Abrandt Salzman & Kutzin LLP Today to Speak to a New York Senior Law Attorney

When nursing homes fail to care for their residents adequately, the consequences can be devastating. In many cases, some of the most vulnerable members of our society suffer needlessly, often in silence. Fortunately, there is help available. The elder care attorneys of Goldfarb Abrandt Salzman & Kutzin LLP are committed to representing the rights of older adults and the disabled and have the skill and experience required to hold nursing homes and their staff accountable for their actions. To schedule a case evaluation with one of our lawyers, contact us online or call our office today at (212) 387-8400.