Hot off the press is some very good news about generating more accountability for those who choose to profiteer off of the elderly and infirm. Below is an email alert I received from The National Consumer Voice For Quality Long-Term Care detailing the changes the bill will provide:
Nursing Home Transparency Clears Another Round As House Votes on Health Care Reform
The 1990-page health care reform bill passed by the House of Representatives just before midnight Saturday includes not only sweeping health insurance reforms but also nursing home transparency, criminal background checks on long-term care workers, and a voluntary payroll deduction system that would provide benefits for long-term care services. The bill, H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, can be downloaded here.
As expected, the bill includes-without amendment-nursing home transparency provisions requiring:
- Public disclosure of individuals and entities that own, govern, operate, finance, provide services to, and/or control the nation’s nursing homes.
- Compliance and ethics programs and internal quality assurance programs in nursing homes, and pilot projects to test ways to improve oversight of chains.
- Collection and reporting of staffing information based on payroll data, including hours of care per resident day, turnover and retention rates, and facility expenditures for wages and benefits.
- A review of Nursing Home Compare and addition of information about sanctions against facilities and the number of adjudicated crimes occurring in them.
- A categorical breakdown of expenditures on cost reports to show how much facilities spend on direct care versus other expenses.
- An improved state complaint process to help protect complainants against retaliation.
- An increase in federal civil monetary penalties and a process to hold CMPs in escrow during appeals (although only after an independent informal dispute resolution process was completed).
- Adequate notification when facilities decided to close, including the option for the government to continue reimbursement until relocation was achieved.
- Training of nursing assistants in dementia care and abuse prevention.
- The bill would authorize a program of national criminal background checks on all long-term care workers who have access to residents or patients–from those who provide in-home long-term care services to nursing home employees.
H.R. 3962 also incorporates the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act to create a national voluntary social insurance system through which enrollees who became disabled (after paying into the system for at least five years) could purchase community-based long-term care, services or supports. Nursing home residents who were Medicaid beneficiaries could retain 5 percent of their benefit, in addition to their personal needs allowance, for their personal use while the remainder was applied to the cost of their care. (See page 1562 of the bill.)
Last-minute efforts to add the Elder Justice Act to H.R. 3962 were not successful. The EJA is in the health care reform bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee.
In the coming weeks, the focus of health care reform will be on the Senate, where Senate leaders are trying to meld bills passed by the Finance (S. 1796) and HELP (S. 1679) committees and to find enough votes to pass the resulting bill. Any bill that passes the Senate will have to be reconciled with H.R. 3962 to create a final health care reform bill to be voted on by both houses. Nursing home transparency and other long-term care provisions will remain at risk of being amended or dropped as this delicate and highly political process goes forward.
NCCNHR will provide additional policy bulletins on H.R. 3962, continuing coverage of long-term care issues in health care reform, and Action Alerts to let you know how and when your voice can be crucial.