CMS Issues Proposed Regulations to
Rollback Nursing Home Requirements
Aiming to “reduce the regulatory burden on providers,” the Trump administration issued proposed regulations on July 18, 2019 that would rollback important protections for nursing home residents. The proposed rules would weaken many resident protections, including those on notice to the ombudsman about transfers and discharges, abuse reporting, infection control, use of psychoactive drugs, grievances, and other standards. It would also reduce the qualifications for directors of food and nutrition services, cut facility-wide assessments from annually to once every two years, eliminate the requirement for a dedicated compliance officer, and allow some facilities to evade life safety code standards and requirements on room size and bathroom proximity. Implementation of certain requirements would be delayed.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates these changes will save nursing home operators over $600 million per year. It did not identify any benefits to residents.
While the proposed rule cuts requirements that help protect residents, it does just the opposite for nursing home operators. It would strengthen operators’ rights to appeal inspection findings and receive automatic reductions of civil money penalties.
CMS is accepting public comments until September 16, 2019.
The proposed rollback is part of a series of troubling actions the Trump Administration has taken to weaken resident protections, seemingly at the direction of the nursing home industry.
On the same day in a separate set of regulations, CMS finalized regulations that allow nursing homes to use pre-dispute arbitration agreements, overturning an Obama administration regulation that banned their use.