Emergency prep rule for long-term care should specify amount of supplies to have on hand, advocacy group says

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Long-term care facilities should have specified amounts of fuel and supplies on hand as part of a forthcoming regulation on disaster preparedness, a prominent consumer advocacy group argues.

Nursing homes, hospitals and other healthcare facilities were hit hard by the Sept. 11 attacks and subsequent natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, showing the need for more comprehensive planning, according to a 120-page proposed emergency preparedness rule issued in December by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care — representing residents, families, ombudsmen and other stakeholders — supports that proposal, the organization stated in an official comment to CMS.

Consumer Voice did urge CMS to tighten the rule by including “the number of days worth” of fuel and supplies that long-term care facilities should have on hand.

“That amount should take into consideration their location, specifically how long it might take for supplies to get to their area, and most frequent types of emergencies,” wrote Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy, in the comment dated March 30. Expiration dates also should be reviewed to ensure all supplies remain usable, she added.

Some prominent healthcare provider associations are pushing back against the proposed rule, The New York Times reported earlier this month. They say the costs and burden of compliance would be crushing for some facilities, which might have to upgrade fire, lighting, waste disposal and other systems.

The American Hospital Association and other organizations say these updates would push costs well beyond CMS estimates, which are an average of $8,000 a year for hospitals and $1,200 for skilled nursing facilities.

The government has three years to finalize the rule, the Times noted.