WASHINGTON, DC—Today, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to take long-overdue, swift and decisive action to protect patients in nursing homes. For the past four years, protections for vulnerable Americans have been eroded. Now is the time to reinstate and bolster safeguards for those residing in these facilities. In a letter to CMS Acting Administrator Elizabeth Richter, Neal urged the incoming CMS leadership to reinstate patient protections waived by the Trump Administration and implement a number of pressing administrative changes crucial to improving patient safety, oversight, and enforcement mechanisms.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged our nation’s nursing homes, accounting for 37 percent of deaths nationwide, while only representing five percent of cases. In some states, nursing homes account for more than half of the deaths,” wrote Chairman Neal in the letter. “This outcome was avoidable and reflects the persistent effort on the part of the Trump Administration to degrade and eliminate mechanisms of nursing home oversight and enforcement. Although the vaccination effort is underway across the nation, with an initial focus on nursing home staff and residents, the pandemic will continue to have detrimental effects on the health and safety of our most vulnerable residents for the foreseeable future.
“During 2020, I sent eight letters to the Trump Administration with specific requests about regulatory actions the former administrator could have taken to better protect nursing home residents and their families during the pandemic. Many of those requests went unanswered and unheeded. Today, I write to encourage the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), under new leadership, to take swift and decisive action to ensure additional unnecessary deaths do not continue to accrue due to COVID-19 or other patient safety and human rights violations.”
The Chairman continued the letter by listing recommendations for the reinstatement of certain COVID-19 waivers, other important COVID-related actions, and additional administrative actions that require immediate attention.
Chairman Neal has been a steadfast champion of addressing nursing home quality and safety issues in order to protect patients. His legislation, H.R. 3406, was enacted into law, providing the first improvements to the Medicare quality measurement system—called value-based payment—since 2010.
The full text of the letter is available HERE.
Chairman Neal sent a series of letters urging the Trump Administration to offer additional assistance and conduct more oversight of nursing homes as they struggle to battle COVID-19 outbreaks:
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