Senators introduce transparency bill and GAO report revealing under-funded survey system

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Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)
A new Government Accountability Office report shows that the survey and certification system lacks the funding necessary to keep pace with its oversight responsibilities. Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) on Thursday released the report in conjunction with the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act of 2009, a bill that inflamed nursing home providers when it was initially introduced last year.

The legislation would increase transparency and strengthen enforcement at facilities. It would require facilities to disclose all people and entities with significant ownership interests and management functions at a nursing home. It also would expand the Nursing Home Compare Web site to include information about and links to recent health and safety inspection reports. Among other enforcement actions, the legislation would authorize the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to place civil monetary penalties in escrow accounts following an independent informal dispute resolution process.

Meanwhile, the GAO report found that resource constraints within the survey system have increased the time between surveys for some facilities from six to 10 years. The legislation seeks to bolster the survey and certification system, according to a news release about the bill. The American Health Care Association, which criticized the original bill because of its reliance on the survey system, had not issued a comment on the bill as of press time.
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