Hundreds of nursing homes violate federal standards, Casey and Toomey report finds
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Neglect, lack of food, and, in some cases, premature death.
Hundreds of nursing homes across the country, including more than a dozen across Pennsylvania, are now under the microscope for what are being called serious health and safety violations.
An investigation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid data shows nearly 400 nursing homes – including sixteen in Pennsylvania and fifteen in New York – violate federal health and safety regulations, according to this never-before-released data now in a report this week by Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey.
“We urged the folks at CMS to release the list. They didn’t refuse, but they also didn’t agree to do so,” said Toomey, a Republican.
CMS oversees what’s known as the “Special Focus Facility” program.
That program focuses on just 88 nursing homes in poor condition. The nearly 400 facilities in the list are known as “candidates” for the program – nursing facilities that meet the same poor conditions, but are not under the same federal scrutiny.
“What was CMS’s main reasoning for not releasing that information, for withholding that information?” Washington Correspondent Matt Knoedler asked Sen. Casey.
“It’s a bad reason, it’s natural government resistance to disclosure,” said Casey, a Democrat who is the ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which led the investigation.
That program calls for stricter oversight, including extra inspections. Currently less than one percent of the nation’s more than 15,700 nursing homes are included in SFF oversight.
According to the Senate report, CMS says budget and staffing restrictions limit how many facilities they can cover.
“I think we need to look at that and whether there should a reallocation so CMS can aggressively supervise all of the nursing home that fail on this test,” Toomey said.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, a CMS spokesperson suggests that much of the information the Senators included in their report was “publicly available.” However, the insist the agency will do more to ensure better oversight into the nursing homes on the list.
“CMS is evaluating the possibility of releasing the list, which is updated monthly,” according to a CMS spokesperson. “Addressing poor quality of care in our nation’s nursing homes is a critically important issue and one that requires an ongoing commitment and appropriate level of resources from Capitol Hill as well as federal and state agencies.”
None of Pennsylvania’s sixteen so-called candidates are in the Erie region.
By releasing the list of candidate facilities, the Senators hope public pressure will force Congress and CMS to make changes soon.
“You’ve got to have all of the information in one place,” Casey said.
“It’s about making sure that a family gets to make a well-informed decision," Toomey added.