House Dems urge CMS to issue stricter standards for nursing homes

House Dems urge CMS to issue stricter standards for nursing homes
© Getty Images

House Democrats are calling on the Obama administration to better protect senior citizens and ensure nursing homes are offering high-quality care.

Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) led 31 Democrats in writing a letter this week asking Andrew Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), to strengthen proposed standards for federally funded nursing homes.

ADVERTISEMENT
Under the rule, expected to be finalized in September, all facilities would have to implement written policies and procedures that prohibit and prevent abuse, neglect, mistreatment or misappropriation of property, and consider competence and skill based on the number of residents and range of care when determining sufficient staffing levels.

But lawmakers said the rule should go further and require nursing homes to have a registered nurse on staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week and mandate staff-to-resident ratios for direct care nurses.

They also asked that the rules prohibit the use of pre-dispute arbitration clauses in resident contracts that relinquish a resident’s right to settle disputes in court and meaningfully address the pervasive misuse of antipsychotics and other types of psychotropic drugs.

Residents who have been denied readmission to a facility, they said, should also be able to appeal that decision.

“The stories of abuse and neglect in nursing home are heartbreaking. With regulators updating the standards for the first time in decades, they must put stronger safeguards in place," Schakowsky said in a statement. "CMS's proposed rule makes several positive reforms, but we believe there are serious issues left unaddressed.”

She added that the agency “should strengthen its rule to protect seniors and ensure nursing homes are accountable for the quality of care they provide."