Penalty Enforcement or Falsification


Block Club Chicago reported a Chicago nursing home inspector didn’t show up to facilities for at least a year and falsified dozens of inspection reports. An “elder protective investigator” never showed up at those facilities. Instead he filed fake visit reports according to an investigation from Inspector General’s office.

“The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) takes very seriously its role in protecting the health, safety and wellness of the city’s most vulnerable population. The department responded swiftly to an investigation by the Office of Inspector General into falsified work records by a former DFSS elder protective investigator.”


The AARP, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform announced a lawsuit filed against DHHS and CMS. The litigation targets a July 2017 directive from CMS relaxing safety rules and penalties. The directive restricts monetary penalties for nursing homes that violate federal safety standards. The lawsuit alleges the policy change “severely weakened” the law by “allowing nursing facilities to knowingly let deficiencies persist for days, weeks or even months while facing only a per instance CMP.”

“Because this penalty amounts to a nothing more than the ‘cost of doing business’ or a veritable ‘slap on the wrist,’ CMS has eliminated the incentives for facilities to self-police and take remedial measures at the earliest point possible,” the litigation states.

The full complaint can be read here.

Future Enforcement?

The need to enforce health and safety standards has grown even more acute during the coronavirus pandemic. Nursing home operators fear potential rule changes regarding safety rules and penalties because of the AARP lawsuit.

“CMS’s decision to severely limit monetary penalties for nursing homes that do not follow the law has had devastating consequences for residents and their families. It is not an exaggeration to say that people’s lives hang in the balance. CMS must reverse this harmful policy and restore protections for people living in nursing homes,” said AARP Foundation Vice President for Litigation Kelly Bagby.