Steep fines for nursing homes could return under renewed federal policy

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CMS regulators may fine nursing homes that violate federal safety standards for each day they are out of compliance under a renewed penalty policy, The New York Times reported July 28. 

In 2017, the Trump administration amended the policy, limiting such penalties to a single fine of up to $22,000. 

Four details: 

1. In July, President Joe Biden's administration revoked the 2017 change, enabling CMS regulators to again fine facilities on a per-day or per-instance basis. 

In the updated guidance, the administration said it had "determined that the agency should retain the discretion at this time to impose a per-day penalty where appropriate to address specific circumstances of prior noncompliance." 

2. Under the earlier policy — part of the previous administration's rollback of government regulations in many business sectors — nursing home penalties that may have reached hundreds of thousands of dollars were limited to a maximum of $22,000. For example, 15 residents died after a COVID-19 outbreak at Prestige Post-Acute and Rehab Center at Kittitas in Ellensburg, Wash., in 2020. A Medicare survey found the facility failed to meet infection control standards for over a month. Under the previous policy, it was fined $21,295. If fined per-day, penalties could have totaled more than $600,000, the Times reports.

3. Critics of the 2017 policy say larger fines serve as a stronger incentive for nursing homes that are in violation of safety standards to correct the issues and comply. 

4. In January, the AARP Foundation filed a federal lawsuit challenging the previous policy, alleging it put residents at greater risk. 

To read the full New York Times article, click here

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