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CMS Repeatedly Waters Down Nursing Home Regulations

A top elder rights legal group, Justice in Aging, has released a timeline of events in which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have cut nursing homes a break by eliminating or easing restrictions that protect nursing home residents.

CMS is the federal agency tasked with the oversight and regulation of over 15,600 nursing homes in the United States. Their rules are intended to dictate how nursing homes operate and the group’s inspections and surveys often lead to fines and punishments that are intended to spur change and compliance. The number of incidents of neglect are still at an all-time high and in the second quarter of this year, the Illinois Department of Public Health (a state-run agency who works in cooperation with CMS) cited nursing homes for 28 more violations than in the quarter prior. If anything, rules, regulations, and laws need to be strengthened, with harsher punishments that send a message that improper treatment of the elderly is unacceptable.


CMS Easing Nursing Home Regulations
Below are some of the most notable rule changes and reversals by CMS from December 2016-June 2018, as detailed by Justice in Aging:

  • Removed ban on arbitration agreements in nursing home contracts after pro-nursing home groups pushed back (see Levin & Perconti’s June 2017 blog post on this topic).
    • Arbitration agreements force residents or their loved ones to settle grievances out of court, without legal representation, typically to the detriment of the injured party.
    • Arbitration agreements are now allowed to be used as a condition of admission to nursing homes.
  • Granted nursing homes an 18 month ‘grace period’ free of fines and penalties before new safety rules must to be followed (see Levin & Perconti’s December 2017 blog post on this topic).
    • New regulations went into effect in November 2017 but after complaints from nursing homes, CMS has given them 18 months to become compliant.
    • Some of these new regulations are:
      • Creation of a Baseline Care Plan for each resident within 48 hours of admission.
      • Facility Assessment requirement that forces a nursing home to consistently evaluate the needs of residents and what’s needed to meet those needs.
  • Reduced nursing home fines for past violations
    • For past incidents, went from per-day fines to per-instance fines.
    • Even if an incident lasted for days, weeks, or months, a nursing home now only pays 1 fine.
  • Relaxed fines for Immediate Jeopardy citations (see Levin & Perconti’s June blog post on this topic)
    • Allowing CMS’ regional offices to determine whether to assess fines for Immediate Jeopardy violations that didn’t actually cause harm or death vs. past rule that required a fine for these violations.
    • Advised CMS regional offices to consider the severity of incident, the odds that it was a one-off mistake, and if the act of neglect or abuse was intentional.


Levin & Perconti: Chicago’s Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect Attorneys
With all of the constant changes happening in the nursing home industry, it can be difficult to find the latest rules and regulations. Trying to navigate nursing home law in the case of an unexpected incident of abuse or neglect is incredibly overwhelming for a resident’s loved ones, especially in times of grief. The nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin and Perconti are dedicated to protecting our clients from the tangled web of misinformation and lies told to them by nursing home staff. It is our job to know the rules, regulations, and laws and fight for the best possible result for you and your loved one.

Do not let fear or uncertainty prevent you from seeking justice. We have nearly 3 decades of experience and success fighting nursing homes throughout Chicago and the state of Illinois. We are not paid unless we recover money for you, so please, contact us now for a free consultation at (312) 332-2872 or by completing our online case evaluation form.

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