Here we go again. The long-term care sector just experienced yet another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.
It kicked off with a rather embarrassing reveal. That’s when lawmakers and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services made it plain that the nation has far more than 88 nursing homes with a “persistent record of poor care.”
Both watchdogs let it be known that the usual suspects on the CMS Special Focus Facilities list actually have quite a bit of company. Turns out the feds are also keeping an eye on 400 more facilities that can’t seem to get it together. And now their names are out in the open for anyone and everyone to see.
Let’s keep in mind that there are only about 15,000 nursing homes across our country. And nearly 500 face severe caregiving challenges? Sorry, there’s really no way to sugarcoat that.
And to the industry’s credit, its spokespeople didn’t. Both major associations defended greater transparency as a good thing. Unfortunately, there probably wasn’t much more they could add.
After all, member facilities provide the funding that allows lobbying organizations to stay in business. It’s no leap of logic to assume that a dues-paying member might not be terribly interested in a lecture about the need to improve, particularly by the organization cashing the check.
It would be nice if the bad apples who consistently sully the sector’s reputation were held more accountable by their peers. But this part of the world just doesn’t seem to work that way. Rather, the prevailing attitude among providers might be best described as live-and-let-live.
Given the industry’s long-standing inability and/or unwillingness to police itself, the job has fallen on regulators and lawmakers. So perhaps it was inevitable that a damning missive like the Senate report released last week by Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) would eventually surface. A love letter it’s not. Have a look here.
As for what is likely to happen next? It’s hard to say. But if I were a betting man, I’d predict this: Not much.
Which just might be the worst news of all.
John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s.