Bill would crack down on nursing home abuses

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Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Nursing home operators with severe care deficiencies could face civil money fines up to $100,000 - 10 times the current maximum - under a new bill set to be introduced today in the U.S. Senate.

Federal health officials also would develop a national monitoring program for addressing corporate-level problems among nursing home chains, according to provisions of the "Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act of 2008." Sens. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) are expected to introduce the bill today.

The legislation's introduction comes two days after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the full list of 131 poor performing nursing homes in their Special Focus Facilities program.

Nursing home transparency is a main focus of the bill, which would add information on facility ownership, special-focus facilities, standardized complaint forms and nursing home inspection reports to the Nursing Home Compare Web site. It also would empower the Department of Health and Human Services secretary to develop a national independent monitoring program that would oversee large nursing home chains.

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