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May 31, 2018

Miller, 17 attorneys general oppose rolling back protections for nursing home residents

Federal efforts threaten reforms long-term healthcare reforms

 
DES MOINES -- Attorney General Tom Miller has joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general in condemning federal actions that would delay the enforcement of protections for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who receive care in skilled nursing facilities.

The attorneys general submitted a letter this week to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services over the agencies' recent guidance. The actions roll back 2016 CMS regulatory reforms instituted to improve the safety and well-being of nursing home residents by providing protections against abuse, neglect and exploitation. In the letter, the attorneys general express their grave concerns in anticipation of the June rulemaking period that will revisit requirements deemed to be burdensome for facilities.

“These actions by the Trump administration would strip Iowa seniors of important protections,” Miller said. “Iowa’s nursing home residents need more protection, not less.” 
 
 In 2016, a set of CMS long-term care reforms were instituted to prevent the spread of infections in nursing homes; improve training for staff; provide protections against abuse, neglect, and exploitation of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries; and ban arbitration agreements. These standards were scheduled to take effect in three phases. The second set of reforms was scheduled to take effect on Nov. 28, 2017. However, CMS delayed the implementation of certain penalties by 18 months and lowered the frequency and amount of penalties for past violations. Civil monetary penalties are an essential tool to ensure nursing facilities comply with care standards and protect their residents. 
 
In the letter to HHS, the attorneys general warned that CMS’ recent actions to roll back protections, if allowed to advance, would not only threaten the mental and physical security of seniors in nursing homes, but also would potentially create additional challenges for the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in Iowa and other states. In essence, rolling back these important and much needed long-term care regulations will result in greater challenges for holding criminals and other violators accountable.
 
Joining Attorney General Miller in sending the letter are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.

Information on skilled nursing facilities in Iowa, including information on Medicaid eligibility and a tool to compare homes, can be found at the Iowa Department of Human Services website.

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