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EDITORIAL: Diminished regulations in nursing homes won't help patients
The Citizens' Voice - 1/12/2018
Jan. 12--About 6,500 nursing homes, 40 percent of the national total, have been cited by federal regulators at least once for a serious violation since 2013, according to federal data. And that could be misleading because advocates for nursing home residents generally contend that enforcement has been lax over that period.
But now the Trump administration, using the upside-down argument that regulation itself deters quality care, has heeded the industry's request to vastly scale back the use of fines against nursing homes that put patients at risk or harm them.
Incredibly, Dr. Kate Goodrich of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, blamed regulation itself for problems in nursing homes.
"Rather than spending quality time with their patients, the providers are spending time complying with regulations that get in the way of caring for their patients and doesn't increase the quality of care they provide," she told Kaiser Health News.
CMS has discouraged the use of daily fines for unresolved violations, and the levying of any fine if the violation, regardless of seriousness, was a "one-time mistake."
Fines for serious violations regarding patient safety are not simply punitive. They are the primary means of deterrence to ensure that problems are corrected not only at the offending nursing home in a specific violation, but across the industry.
To ensure that affected families cannot seek redress through other means when regulation fails, the administration also has eliminated another rule that prevented nursing homes from requiring patients' families to resolve disputes through mandatory forced arbitration that is largely controlled by the provider rather than the consumer.
The notion that vastly diminished regulation will improve patient care is a fantasy. Its main result will be reduced accountability by nursing homes, which is the last thing patients and their families need.
(c)2018 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)
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