Special Focus Facilities

The Skilled Nursing News reported on a bill that would expand the Special Focus Facilities (SFF) program. The SFF designation applies to facilities with major systemic problems. The worst of the worse. However, Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, both of Pennsylvania, are calling for expanded oversight of these poorly performing nursing facilities.

The problem facilities would receive “additional oversight and enforcement, as well as technical assistance and educational programming.” Properties can either “graduate” from the list by demonstrating improvement, or be terminated from the Medicare program due to continued problems.

The Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2020 would also set up “an independent Advisory Council.”  The Council would provide recommendations on quality improvements to the DHHS. It is unclear if the facility could refuse the recommendations.

Other changes include:

  • Requiring that no fewer than 3.5% of SNFs participate in the program.
  • Establishing on-site consultation and education for these facilities.
  • Codifying enforcement elements.
  • Reinvesting Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) to foster improvement for program participants.

Toomey said in the press release announcing the legislation:

“This new bipartisan legislation will provide greater oversight and resources to systemically underperforming nursing homes. The Senate should pass this bill without delay.”

See summary of the legislation. Seems reasonable. I’m glad there is bipartisan support for expanding the program. As a nursing home attorney, anything that helps the health, safety, and well-being is worth trying.