Federal Agency Increases Visibility about Fines Faced by Nursing Homes

The federal department tasked with overseeing nursing homes throughout the country recently announced it is revising its policy and will now publicly post details online about all fines received by care facilities regardless of payment status.

This new policy’s announcements occur during a period of increased criticism due to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) Care Compare website. The agency describes its website as existing to provide American citizens with details regarding matters of the level of care at nursing homes. 

Changes to Nursing Home Fines

Earlier in 2021, a federal policy was passed that substantially changed the amount of fines associated with nursing home penalties. This new policy limited monetary fines for certain nursing home violations to at most, a one-time amount of $22,320. This change in fines came after the COVID-19 pandemic provided substantial challenges for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The United States Government Accountability Office reports that 82 percent of surveyed nursing homes from 2013 to 2017 received citations for violations in regards to infection protocol. Before changes in 2017, the biggest violation that a nursing home could end up facing was $20,965 a day. 

Notice of the Change

In the summer of 2021, the CMMS announced that the agency only updated the public about fines faced by care facilities when the payment occurred. The agency referenced this practice after questions arose about whether Care Compare had published online a report involving inspection of a nursing home from the summer of 2020. 

Records made by the state reveal that inspections found countless violations and that the CMMS had fined the facility almost $90,000. 

A review of Care Compare shows that at least some previously unreported fines are now listed on the site. 

Commentary by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare

One spokesperson for the CMMS linked this inspection report with false data as the result of errors made by the workers who performed the inspection. In regards to the allegation that the nursing home never received fines due to the summer of 2020 inspection, the spokesperson attributed this element to the facility’s failure to yet pay the fine.

A spokesperson for the Center later stated that the Care Compare website now depicts all imposed fines, although a 90-day lapse exists in the report of fines to represent the nearly 40% reduction in fines that the CMMS permits for care centers that waive the right of appeal. 

A lawyer for the Centers for Medicare Advocacy later complained to the CMMS that when a nursing home appeals a fine, the disclosure of details about a fine to the public can be postponed by a couple of years and sometimes even longer. 

Speak with an Experienced Elder Law Attorney

Hopefully, this increase in transparency regarding fines paid by nursing homes will lead to increased accountability by nursing homes. Elder law is full of challenges, but an experienced attorney can help navigate many of these obstacles. Contact Ettinger Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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