CMS adds appeals process in final nursing home-closure rule

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Long-term care facilities will have to notify the federal government, state survey agencies, state long-term care ombudsmen, residents and residents' legal representatives at least 60 days in advance of any closure, under a final rule issued Friday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The facilities will also have to provide a relocation plan for residents.

The final rule will be published in the Federal Register today and take effect April 20. Administrators who do not comply with the rule will face fines of up to $100,000. Under a new provision in the final rule, administrators may appeal penalties before an administrative law judge, with further appeals to the Department of Health and Human Services and judicial review available.

After posting this measure as a final interim rule in February 2011, CMS received 15 comments. The agency addresses these in the final rule. One comment asked for clarification regarding situations when federal and state law vary as to the notification period. Administrators must adhere to the longer notification time, CMS stated.

Others asked for specific details about what a closure plan must include. CMS said this is unnecessary, as it wants to “allow each LTC facility the flexibility to develop a plan that would most effectively protect the residents' health, safety and well-being.”

The full rule is available here.