Proposed Revisions to the Federal Nursing Home Regulations Now Published & Available for Comment
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has officially published its proposed revisions to the current regulations (also known as the Requirements of Participation) for nursing homes participating in the Medicare and/or Medicaid programs. This proposed rule is available to view in full at the Federal Register website here. Interested individuals, groups and organizations will be able to submit formal comments on the rule from now until September 14th, 2015 through the Federal Register site.
As you may recall, CMS announced that it would be revising the Requirements of Participation for nursing homes in 2012; at that time, Consumer Voice, other advocates, and stakeholders submitted detailed recommendations to the agency on ways the current rules could be updated and strengthened.
Consumer Voice is still analyzing the proposed revisions to the Requirements of Participation but, upon initial review, is pleased to see a number of provisions that would maintain and strengthen residents’ rights in certain areas; enhance individualized, person-centered care; and improve resident access to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. However, Consumer Voice, along with other advocates, is strongly concerned and disappointed over CMS’s failure to address understaffing in the proposed revisions. The proposed rule does not set forward a minimum staffing standard or a requirement for the twenty-four hour presence of a registered nurse in facilities. In addition, there appear to be some proposed revisions that may negatively impact resident quality of life and quality care.
Consumer Voice is developing a comparison of the proposed and current regulations that will be sent out shortly. In addition, we will prepare a summary of the changes and sample comments that advocates can edit if desired and submit.
The Requirements of Participation set critical standards for the quality of life and quality of care for nursing home residents. CMS must receive feedback from advocates like yourselves on the proposed revisions to ensure that any changes to the existing regulations would benefit, and not harm, residents. Stay tuned for more information and tools to help you advocate on this important matter!
David Wingate is an elder law attorney in Frederick and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The elder law practice consists of Wills, Trusts Revocable and Irrevocable, Powers of Attorneys, Living Wills, Asset Protection and Medicaid.