Agency may conduct less than 40% of required nursing home surveys in Kansas this year

Share this content:

Many skilled nursing facilities in Kansas are going without annual inspections, with survey completions expected to remain below the 40% mark this year.

State officials have blamed the shortfall on 17 vacancies in its 60-person staff, but rates have been in free fall since 2015 when state employees completed about 79% of required surveys.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Kansas completed 63 percent in 2016 and just 35% last year. Annual inspections by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services are required as part of the state's participation in the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs.

“It's a public safety problem. We are not in compliance,” state Sen. Vicki Schmidt (R-Topeka) said during a meeting Monday of the House and Senate committee responsible for Medicaid oversight. “When will we be? 2020?”

Department Secretary Tim Keck pointed to high complaint rates and staff vacancies for the poor survey completion rate. He said higher salaries would attract more job candidates.

“That number won't come down overnight,” he said. “We just need more people to do surveys.”

Between 2015 and 2017, nursing facility complaints spiked from 12,232 to 13,978, and nearly 3,000 have already been filed this year, according to the newspaper.

Rep. Barbara Ballard (D-Lawrence) said lack of required inspections and the volume of complaints should make Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer question whether elderly residents in Kansas are being adequately protected.