Sequester cuts are bringing changes to survey process

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4 hospitalized after nursing home fire, officials praise sprinkler regulation
4 hospitalized after nursing home fire, officials praise sprinkler regulation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will change some nursing home survey procedures in response to budget cuts from sequestration, according to memos released April 9. The CMS Survey & Certification budget has been reduced 5% from 2012, the agency announced.

To help surveyors enforce the Aug. 13, 2013, deadline for all nursing homes to be fully equipped with automatic sprinklers, CMS created a Short Form survey process. The Short Form also will enable surveyors to work more efficiently in order to “meet the resource limitations” from budget cuts, CMS said.

The agency will provide states with a list of nursing homes that qualify for Short Form surveys. Each state can choose whether to use them. To qualify, a facility must have a full sprinkler system and meet certain other criteria, such as having a clean safety record. If a surveyor identifies fire safety issues, the Short Form process must be expanded, CMS specified.

Other changes will impact the Special Focus Facility initiative, according to a separate memo. Nursing homes with a history of quality issues that have been designated SFFs for longer than 18 months will undergo a “last chance” onsite survey, which could result in termination from the Medicare program. Facilities designated SFFs for more than a year will undergo a progress review.