Feds Promise Tougher Penalties Against Nursing Home Abuse

The Biden administration is promising increased scrutiny and tougher penalties against nursing homes that fail to meet strict standards  and expose residents to the risk of abuse and neglect.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently stated that the federal administration is increasing its commitment to reducing the rate of violations of nursing homes across the country, through increased scrutiny and tougher enforcement of existing standards.  The Department says that it has created a watch list of more than 80 nursing homes that have performed poorly on parameters of quality and care. The watchlist is just one part of a series of steps that the Department of Health and Human Services is taking to toughen safety standards at nursing homes, thereby ensuring better quality of care for residents.

The steps are part of President Biden’s State of the Union Action Plan for Protecting Seniors by Improving Safety and Quality of the Nation’s Nursing Homes.  The reforms include an overhaul of the Special Focus Facility program.  The Special Focus Facility program already tasks inspectors with increased monitoring of poorly – performing nursing facilities. However, the number of inspections is only likely to increase with the administration’s new plan. The reforms also include an increase in fines or penalties for nursing homes that continue to commit violations. The penalties could even include moves to terminate the facility’s Medicare or Medicaid funding. The reforms also include an increase in the standards that nursing homes will have to meet in order to qualify for continued funding.

Nursing  homes are also being  offered support and assistance in meeting these new standards. The administration says that it will provide technical assistance in the form of guidelines that can be followed to enhance adherence to safety standards. The federal administration is also looking at increasing and expanding pathways for employment in the nursing home industry. This is being done in order to meet a critical shortfall of trained nursing home staff.  High staff turnover and high attrition rates mean lower staff members in nursing homes, and this directly impacts the quality of care that residents can expect and receive.

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced millions of dollars in funding for increased nursing education and training in order to expand the pool of qualified nursing professionals that can be drawn upon to make up these critical shortages.  A combination of all these steps can definitely help improve standards in many of Georgia’s nursing homes.

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