Special oversight of nation's 88 worst nursing homes delayed amid pandemic

The Special Focus Facility, a CMS-run program that oversees 88 of the nation's most problematic nursing homes, didn't inspect facilities for nearly five months due to the pandemic, according to an InvestigateTV analysis of CMS data and as reported by WECT.

The program requires facilities to be inspected every six months — about twice as often as other nursing homes. In March, CMS said inspectors would only check infection control practices and respond to complaints that threatened the health and safety of residents.

Nine things to know: 

  • About 15 percent of the SFF nursing homes were not inspected as part of the targeted inspections between early March and July 31.
  • In August, more than 90 percent of SFFs hadn't had a regular six-month survey. 
  • One in 5 SFFs haven't been inspected in a year or more.
  • As of August, one of every five nursing homes in the program remained on the list for more than 18 months.
  • CMS hasn't levied financial penalties against more than 15 percent of the SFFs.
  • In the past three years, more than 1,600 substantiated complaints have been made against SFFs.
  • SFFs have on average four times as many substantiated complaints as all other homes and have collectively paid more than $9.5 million in fines.
  • More than a third of SFFs haven't shown improvement, including nine that have been cited for abuse since 2017.
  • No additional resources or education are provided to SFFs to help improve conditions.

On Aug. 17, CMS said routine inspections could resume.

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