Facility closure requirement brings burdens for providers

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A new rule authorized under the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act sharply amends the notification-of-closure period for nursing homes, and significantly increases the stakes for potential penalties for administrators.

The interim final rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services took effect March 23. It requires long-term care administrators to submit written notification to residents 60 days prior to a facility closure. Notification also must be made to the Department of Health and Human Services and the state's LTC ombudsman. Previously, administrators needed to send notification just 30 days before a planned closure.

If HHS mandates the facility's closure, notice must be given based on what the agency deems appropriate, according to the Bureau of National Affairs. Closure notices must contain a state-approved relocation plan and “include assurances that the residents will be transferred to the most appropriate facility or other setting in terms of quality, services, and location, taking into consideration the needs, choice and best interests of each resident,” according to the rule.

Administrators who fail to comply with the rule can face civil monetary penalties of up to $100,000. Additionally, administrators can be denied participation in any federal healthcare program and could be subject to further penalties. Although the interim final rule has taken effect, comments on the rule can be submitted to HHS until April 19. CMS is hoping to use the comments it receives to address race, age, gender and socioeconomic disparities among residents.

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