The top official at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Monday that she has directed the agency to undertake a “comprehensive review” of its regulations, guidelines and processes related to skilled nursing facilities.
Administrator Seema Verma said that the goal is to bolster safety and quality in SNFs across the country.
“This is not business as usual — we are pushing beyond the status quo,” she wrote in a blog post Monday.
“CMS’ approach to oversight of nursing homes is constantly evolving,” she added. “Just as we’re unleashing innovative strategies and technologies in other areas of CMS, we’re continuously looking for ways to improve our approach to nursing home safety and quality. We must never be complacent — we should always push ahead to continuously improve our efforts.”
Along with the comprehensive review, Verma wrote that CMS is working to increase oversight of State Survey Agencies, which have been known to deliver uneven findings and enforcement around the country. Some states have frequently identified serious issues in SNFs while others have not rooted out concerns with the same “seriousness or severity,” she wrote.
In a related development Monday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office called on CMS to step up oversight of nursing home abuse abuse investigations. The GAO found that abuse investigations and reporting in Oregon lapsed for at least 15 years.
Verma’s blog post also said that CMS is considering changing its organizational structure to enhance collaboration across regional staff.
The leader of the American Health Care Association said providers’ improvement in recent years should blunt any push for regulatory overhaul.
“We have been at the forefront of quality improvement efforts for many years, and the results speak for themselves,” said AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson. “On 19 of 24 quality measures, there has been tremendous improvement — and our momentum is accelerating.”
He acknowledged the need for regulatory oversight but said it needs to focus on person-centered care and supply feedback for providers to improve.
“If CMS means to convey a focus on helping providers achieve compliance and a shift away from the current punitive survey process in this [blog] post, the agency will be an important partner as we continue in this quality journey,” Parkinson added. “Regardless, AHCA maintains an unwavering commitment to further improve the lives of millions of residents in our buildings.”