On December 24, 2017, the New York Times reported that the Trump Administration has scaled back the use of fines against nursing homes that harm residents or place them in grave risk of injury. The Times article, Trump Administration Eases Nursing Home Fines in Victory for Industry, described the reduced use of fines as part of a broader relaxation of regulations under the president at the behest of the nursing home industry.
One of the restrictions bars fines for violations of new federal nursing home requirements. On November 24, 2017 – just four days before new federal nursing home requirements took effect – the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) imposed an 18-month moratorium on enforcing almost all of the new requirements. This capitulation to nursing home industry demands will prevent state inspection agencies from issuing civil money penalties and most other sanctions to nursing homes that violate the new requirements.
The moratorium is just the most recent sign that CMS is leading an attack on federal nursing home standards. CMS is actively working with the nursing home industry and other provider organizations through its deceptively named “Patients Over Paperwork” initiative to roll back standards and undermine any type of accountability. Many critical rights and standards, along with the entire federal inspection system, are being labeled as regulatory burdens and targeted for elimination.