May 16, 2008
By Scot Hasselman*
On May 15, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing entitled "In the Hands of Strangers: Are Nursing Home Safeguards Working?" Witnesses included:
- Lewis Morris, Chief Counsel to the Inspector General, HHS
- Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Attorney General
- Luis Navas-Migueloa, Long Term Care Ombudsman, Commission on Aging and Retirement Education, City of Baltimore
- Tom Debruin, President, Pennsylvania Service Employees International Union
- David Zimmerman, Ph.D., Director, Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Andrew Kramer, M.D., Head, Professor of Medicine, Division of Health Care Policy and Research, University of Colorado-Denver
- Mr. Neil L. Pruitt, Jr., Chairman and CEO, UHS-Pruitt Corporation
- Mr. Kerry Weems, Acting Administrator, CMS
At the hearing, the OIG discussed studies, enforcement actions, initiatives, and government-industry collaboration that OIG has undertaken to identify ways to improve nursing home quality of care. The OIG also made a series of recommendations for further improving care, including: (1) improving screening of all nursing home staff by creating a nationwide centralized database that includes information from OIG's exclusions database, State nurse aide registries, and disciplinary actions by State licensing boards; (2) creating a demonstration project to establish mandatory compliance programs for selected nursing homes, such as "special focus" facilities; and (3) enhancing the quality-of-care data made available to the nursing home industry and the public.
Likewise, CMS described its recent nursing home quality initiatives, including enhancing consumer awareness and transparency and promoting rigorous survey and enforcement processes, such as through the special focus facility program.
Access the testimony from the hearing.
Read a related New York Times article.
*We would like to thank Scot Hasselman, Esquire (Reed Smith LLP, Washington, DC) for providing this email alert.