A group of Democratic senators want the Trump administration to reverse its steady rollback of regulations on nursing homes.
In a letter sent to Alex Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Democrats allege that the regulatory rollback “will inevitably weaken the safety of our nation’s nursing homes and put patients, many of whom are elderly and wholly reliant on this care, at greater risk.”
The letter, led by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), was dated Feb. 14, but publicly released Tuesday.
The letter says that a series of CMS memos released in the last year makes it difficult for federal regulators to fine or deny federal payments to nursing homes that don’t meet certain quality and safety standards.
“It is abundantly clear that when health or safety is compromised, when errors occur, or in the worst cases, when patients are harmed, there must be a wide range of strong enforcement actions available to ensure that these adverse events are not repeated, precious federal dollars are not wasted, and most importantly, lives are not lost,” the lawmakers wrote.
For example, in July, CMS released a memorandum intended to lessen fines against nursing homes that have not complied with health and safety standards.
In November, CMS imposed an 18-month moratorium on the imposition of fines or denials of federal payments when nursing homes fail to meet certain requirements, such as ensuring there is adequate staff onsite, providing behavioral health services or using psychotropic medications correctly.
“We will not and cannot accept CMS’ actions that fail to keep nursing home [sic] held to the highest possible standards when it comes to patient care and safety, and we urge CMS to reconsider these policies immediately,” the senators wrote.