More Aggressive Enforcement for the Worst-Performing Nursing Homes
CMS announced actions to significantly strengthen accountability for nursing homes in the Special Focus Facilities (SFF) Program. The oversight program is for the poorest performing nursing homes in the country. The SFF Program already provides more frequent inspections of these nursing homes. However, more action is needed.
The SFF Program reforms announced for the first time today:
Increase penalties for nursing homes in the program that fail to improve: CMS will use escalating penalties for violations. Medicare and/or Medicaid funding may terminate for facilities with dangerous violations in two successive inspections.
Increase safety standards for improvement: Even after a facility graduates from the program, CMS will continue oversight. This oversight will ensure these nursing homes consistently maintain compliance with safety requirements.
Increase technical assistance: CMS will engage these poor-performing nursing homes through direct and immediate outreach by CMS.
More Resources to Support Good-Paying, Union Jobs in Nursing Home Care
Sufficient, high-quality staffing is the measure most closely linked to the quality-of-care residents receive. DHHS and DOL have millions to support good-quality nursing jobs.
A wide variety of workforce stakeholders can apply for $80 million in grant funding available right now: The industry can apply for the DOL’s Nursing Expansion Grant program. This program will provide $80 million to help train the nursing workforce.
HHS is announcing $13 million in grants to expand nursing education and training. These funds will expand the number of nursing preceptors. They supervise nursing students during their clinical rotations. Expanding preceptors will provide more opportunities for well-supported clinical rotations and, ultimately, career paths.
HHS and DOL will provide opportunities to apply for additional federal funds to support the nursing workforce pipeline. HHS and DOL have identified hundreds of millions of dollars to improve nurse staffing and workforce sustainability.
By the end of this year, DOL’s Employment and Training Administration’s (ETA’s) YouthBuild will make available approximately $90 million in grant funding for eligible nonprofit organizations for healthcare-related training.
ETA’s National Dislocated Worker Grants program makes tens of millions in funding available to develop training in entry-level nursing occupations such as Certified Nursing Assistant, Medical Assisting, and Physical Therapy.
ETA’s WORC Initiative Grants will have $35 million in funds to develop workforce development solutions to promote job opportunities and long-term economic vitality. This will help support good jobs in high-demand occupations including behavioral health, dental health, and health IT.
Building On Other Nursing Home Reform Progress
Establishing minimum staffing requirements: CMS launched a public input process and research study that will inform future rulemaking on a minimum staffing requirement. 4.1 HPPD is likely to be implemented.
Cracking down on illegal debt collection: CMS is working with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to crack down on nursing homes that illegally hold families responsible for their loved ones’ nursing home debt.
Increasing transparency & accountability: CMS made available more data on who owns Medicare-certified nursing homes. CMS released data publicly on mergers, acquisitions, and changes of ownership for nursing homes. This will empower families to understand whether a nursing home is part of a bad chain.
Incentivizing quality performance through Medicare and Medicaid funding: CMS issued a final rule updating Medicare payment policies and rates for fiscal year (FY) 2023. The rule had a billion dollar payment increase. CMS issued a bulletin encouraging states to use their Medicaid authorities to drive better health outcomes.
Improving families’ ability to comparison shop: CMS launched its enhanced Nursing Home Five-Star Quality Rating System, integrating data on nursing homes’ weekend staffing rates for nurses and turnover among nurses and administrators.
Preventing fraudsters from receiving Medicare funds: CMS issued a proposed rule requiring nursing home owners to be fingerprinted for federal background checks preventing abuse and Medicare fraud by nursing home owners.
Ensuring pandemic preparedness: CMS updated its guidance to nursing home inspectors requiring infection control specialists on site.
This seems like a good start. Go vote!