The Nursing Home Improvement and Accountability Act of 2021, introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senate Aging Committee Chair Bob Casey (D-PA), and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on August 10, 2021, includes multiple provisions to improve the quality of care for residents and the oversight system. Among the proposed changes addressing staffing, survey and enforcement, the federal website Care Compare, and many other issues for nursing homes that receive reimbursement from the Medicare and Medicaid programs for providing care to residents, the bill:
- Requires 24-hour a day registered nurse coverage in all facilities;
- Requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to study, submit periodic reports to Congress, and implement nurse staffing ratios, and requires facilities to meet staffing ratios;
- Requires all facilities to have an infection preventionist at least 40 hours per week;
- Requires the Secretary to review and improve survey and enforcement practices to ensure their effectiveness, appropriate classification of deficiencies, timely correction of deficiencies, timely investigation of complaints and reported allegations of abuse and neglect, the ability of state survey agencies to hire, train, and retain surveyors, and more;
- Provides enhanced Medicaid funding to support staffing (higher wages and benefits) and quality of care, with independent evaluations of and reports to Congress about the increased funding;
- Enhances the accuracy and reliability of nursing home data, requiring audits and financial penalties for the submission of inaccurate data;
- Prohibits pre-dispute arbitration agreements;
A companion House bill is expected to be introduced after the August recess.
For additional information: “Wyden, Casey Unveil comprehensive Bill to Improve Nursing Homes for Residents and Workers” (News Release, Aug. 10, 2021), https://www.finance.senate.gov/chairmans-news/wyden-casey-unveil-comprehensive-bill-to-improve-nursing-homes-for-residents-and-workers, which includes links to the legislative text, a summary of the bill, and a section-by-section summary of the bill.
August 12, 2021 – T. Edelman