Steep fines for nursing homes could return under renewed federal policy


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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