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Tougher Penalties Announced For Substandard Nursing Homes

senior woman in wheelchair, sitting alone in a nursing home in Alabama

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that the poorest-performing nursing homes in the country will now face tougher federal penalties for future violations of regulations designed to protect the health and safety of residents.

The announcement affects 88 nursing home facilities throughout the country that have been designated a “special focus facility.” That’s fewer than 0.5 percent of all nursing homes in the United States.

The Special Focus Facility (SFF) initiative was established to provide extra attention to nursing homes with a history of serious quality problems. Once designated as an SFF, facilities face inspection twice as frequently as other nursing homes until they show a satisfactory level of improvement.

An effort to ensure high-quality care for nursing home residents

“People in this country’s nursing homes deserve access to safe and high-quality care, and facilities that aren’t providing that level of service need to improve their performance or face the consequences,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said.

SFF now face:

  • Tougher requirements: Facilities in the SFF program will now have to demonstrate they have made a systemic improvement to increase the quality of their care before “graduating” from the program.
  • Termination of federal funding: Facilities that have been cited with “Immediate Jeopardy” deficiencies in two separate inspections face discretionary termination from the Medicare and/or Medicaid programs.
  • Increased enforcement actions: Facilities in the program that demonstrate no effort to improve performance face escalating and more severe enforcement measures.
  • Incentives to sustain improvement: If the performance of a facility declines after leaving the SFF program, that facility faces an extended monitoring period and progressively severe enforcement actions.

“Poor-performing nursing homes have the opportunity to improve, but if they fail to do so, the changes we are making to CMS’ Special Focus Facilities Program will hold these facilities accountable for the health and safety of their residents, ” Brooks-LaSure said.

Facilities with more than one violation will be monitored for a minimum of three years. Staffing levels are also now a consideration for putting a facility in the SFF program. CMS is currently exploring the idea of implementing staffing ratio requirements.

An experienced Alabama nursing home abuse attorney can help you get accountability and justice

The changes are part of a planned overhaul of the nursing home system by the Biden Administration, which also has said it will award $80 million in grants for the training and hiring of nursing staff.

According to the Associated Press, roughly one million people live in nursing homes throughout the country.

Residents of facilities that provide substandard care can be victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. They may suffer falls, inadequate hygiene, dehydration, malnutrition, physical abuse, verbal abuse, or sexual abuse.

If you suspect a loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, don’t ignore your suspicions. It’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible. An experienced Alabama nursing home abuse and neglect attorney can listen to your concerns and go over your options.

Shuttlesworth Law Firm LLC has been fighting for the rights of nursing home residents since 1998. Attorney Perry Shuttlesworth knows how to build strong cases that hold negligent facilities accountable and is dedicated to helping clients get justice. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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