Texas SNF providers facing law to crack down on violations, eliminate 'right to correct'

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Texas long-term care providers will have a harder time avoiding fines and correcting serious deficiencies under a new law meant to crack down on repeat offenders.

State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) had introduced a stand-alone bill in the spring that would give state officials the ability to levy fines against nursing homes that are repeatedly found with violations without having a chance to correct them first. That bill was unable to pass the House on its own, but it was added as an amendment to an ultimately successful healthcare bill, The Texas Tribune reported on Monday. It will take effect in September.

Doing away with a so-called “right to correct” rule will improve the state's nursing homes and “send a clear and unambiguous message that we're serious about protecting our most vulnerable citizens from abuse and neglect,” Schwertner said. State AARP officials praised the law.

But providers are exasperated by the rule. Scott Kibbe, director of government relations for the Texas Health Care Association, told the newspaper that inconsistencies among surveyors can make meeting survey benchmarks difficult. Appealing reported violations can present cash-strapped providers with another financial burden, he added.

“Many are struggling for lack of funding, and then if you keep tacking on penalties, you're not solving the problem," Kibbe said. "It's maybe putting them further in the hole."

One nursing home provider interviewed by the Tribune said the law's implementation will leave operators “chasing our tails.”

“We fix it and concentrate on it, but if they fine me on everything that happens it dilutes the system,” Phillip Hopkins, president of Victoria, TX-based TAG Management Service, told the Tribune.