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Federal Lawmakers Urge Increased Transparency From Nursing Home Conglomerates

The Hill, the news group that follows legislative developments out of Washington D.C., recently explained an effort by a few lawmakers to provide consumers with more information about who is actually running their local nursing home.

A bipartisan mix of legislators, Senators Max Baucus, Chick Grassley, and Rep. Pete Stark explained this week that it remains a challenge for anyone to understand the true leaders of a nursing facility, because the ownership information is hidden in layers of deceiving information. The information is further complicated by private firm investments, making it very difficult for victims of nursing home abuse advocates to determine who is actually responsible for improving care at negligent facilities.

The need for changes is growing as reports have found increased private investment in nursing homes, with private firms buying over 1,800 facilities in the last decade. Only 10 firms are responsible for nearly 90% of the growth-meaning the care of hundreds of thousands of seniors is in the hands of a select few firms. The specific ownership information tracked by Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in its tracking system known as PECOS. Unfortunately, the PECOS information is difficult to understand and occasionally incomplete. In that way it is difficult to understand the size and scope of many nursing home chains.

To improve the situation, the lawmakers are advocating a new law that would require these nursing facilities to provide more detailed and consistent ownership information. The required reporting would include a description of the nursing chain’s governing body, organizational structure, and information about other connected parties.

As Sen. Baucus explains, “Federal health care officials need full and detailed information so they can properly oversee these nursing homes and hold the correct parties accountable for keeping patients safe and well-cared for.”

Our team of Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti well understands the challenges of holding nursing homes accountable for their care when the ownership information is buried in bureaucracy. We believe that the best nursing home care will only be provided when there is no hidden information or deceptive practices where chains seek to avoid being held responsible for their operations.