CMS outlined changes to the nursing home survey process in a October 2017 memo to state survey agency directors, which scaled down the use and severity of civil monetary penalties (CMPs) for certain nursing home deficiencies. Shortly thereafter, CMS released a November 2017 memo that among other things, outlined an 18-month moratorium on the imposition of CMPs, discretionary denials of payment for new admissions and discretionary termination by surveyors for survey deficiencies identified by the following eight “F” tags: Continue reading…
In a final rule published today in the federal register (“Final Rule”), CMS announced numerous changes to the consolidated Medicare and Medicaid requirements for participation for long term care (LTC) facilities (42 CFR part 483, subpart B), which take effect on November 28, 2016 (see the March 7, 2016 blog for information about the July 16, 2015 proposed rule (“Proposed Rule”)). Much to the satisfaction of elder care advocates, the Final Rule provides that nursing homes may no longer require prospective nursing home residents to agree to binding arbitration. This strikes a blow at LTC facilities, which generally used arbitration as a tool to avoid incurring the onerous costs associated with litigation.
CMS’ position in the final rule isn’t shocking as it had expressed concern about the use of arbitration agreements in nursing homes in its Proposed Rule. Although no longer permissible for LTC facilities to use as a condition of admission, according to Andy Slavitt, CMS’ Acting Administrator, and Kate Goodrich, Director of the Center for Clinical Standards & Quality, “facilities and residents will still be able to use arbitration on a voluntary basis at the time a dispute arises.” However, such agreements will still need to be “clearly explained” to residents.
Nursing homes that have traditionally asked residents to sign binding arbitration agreements should revisit their admissions processes and implement revised policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the Final Rule, so that, beginning November 28, 2016, residents at such LTC facilities are no longer required to agree to binding arbitration. LTC facilities may also consider revising their policies and procedures to incorporate recommending the use of arbitration to residents following disputes that may arise, and to ensure that any such recommendations are clearly explained to their residents.
For more information regarding the voluntary use of arbitration agreements in the nursing home context, contact J. Nicole Martin, Dana Petrillo or any member of Cozen O’Connor’s health care law team.
On Friday October 10, 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) jointly announced a $38 million settlement with a skilled nursing facility (SNF), Extendicare Health Services Inc. (Extendicare) and its subsidiary Progressive Step Corporation (ProStep). Extendicare owns and operates 146 SNFs in eleven states. Prostep offers Extendicare residents occupational, physical and speech rehabilitation services.
The settlement stemmed from allegations in two qui tam cases: United States ex rel. Lovvorn v. EHSI, et. al. C.A. 10-1580 (E.D. Pa); and United States ex rel. Gallick et al., v. EHSI et al., C.A. 2:13cv-092 (S.D. Ohio). The allegations were that Extendicare (1) “billed Medicare and Medicaid for materially substandard nursing services that were so deficient that they were effectively worthless”; and (2) “billed Medicare for medically unreasonable and unnecessary rehabilitation therapy services.” Continue reading…
Choosing a nursing home can be a daunting task for consumers who often have myriad questions regarding the quality of care available at the nursing homes in their areas. To help answer these questions, CMS has created the Nursing Home Compare website, which provides consumers with easy-to-compare ratings of nursing homes’ staffing, quality measures, and health inspections, as well as an overall rating, of each nursing home in the country. To help consumers make informed decisions about nursing home quality, CMS uses the Five Star Quality Rating System, by which CMS compares data from nursing home inspections, self-reports, and assessments. Based on this information CMS calculates nursing homes’ star levels on a scale of one to five, with five stars being much above average and one star being much below average.
However, there has been concern over the accuracy of the self-reported data that CMS uses in calculating its star ratings. To improve the Five Star Quality Rating System, and to standardize the results, Congress recently passed the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act (“IMPACT Act”). The IMPACT Act will require providers to submit standardized data to allow CMS to compare quality across different post-acute care settings, and will provide funding for the quarterly electronic submission of nursing home staffing information that is tied to payroll data. CMS will also increase both the number and type of quality measures used in the Five Star Quality Rating System. The first additional measure, starting January 2015, will be the extent to which antipsychotic medications are in use. Future additional measures will include claims-based data on re-hospitalization and community discharge rates. Continue reading…