In 2016, the nursing home industry requested the change in the Medicare program’s penalty protocols and now, according to reports, a new policy from the Trump administration will roll back fines against nursing homes cited for mistreatment or neglect. The New York Times research found that nearly 6,500 nursing homes in the U.S. have received at least one citation for a serious violation since 2013 and about two-thirds of those have been fined by Medicare.
According to this New York Times excerpt “A July memo from the centers discouraged the directors of state agencies that survey nursing homes from issuing daily fines for violations that began before an inspection, favoring one-time fines instead. Daily fines remain the recommended approach for major violations discovered during an inspection. In news reports from October, CMS discouraged its regional offices from levying fines, even in the most serious health violations, if the error was a “one-time mistake.” In November, the Trump administration exempted nursing homes that violate eight new safety rules from penalties for 18 months.
With the new policy, industry experts worry that the abuse and neglect of nursing home patients, along with serious health concerns for patients such as spread of infection, physical injury or harm could now go unpunished. Poor patient care has always been a critical issue in the nursing home industry and Obama era policy’s federal inspectors focused aggressively and primarily on catching wrongdoing, but not necessarily implementing change or improvements for care of the elderly. With the new policy citations that previously resulted in fines will now see lesser penalties, or none at all.
One example of the lesser fine’s under the Trump administration was when The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fined Lincoln Manor $282,954, including $10,091 a day for 28 days, for failing to monitor and treat the wound of a patient who died as a result of neglect. In comparison, The Times reported that fines were issued before the new guidelines took effect; if the agency had issued a one-time fine, the maximum would have been less than $21,000.