The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is being urged to adopt an updated life safety code regulation after providers warned the edition slated to go into effect could cause “unnecessary nursing home resident disruptions and relocations” due to its inconsistencies and restrictions. 

LeadingAge issued the call in a letter late last week to James Merrill, life safety engineer within the agency.

Nursing homes are required to adopt the 2012 Life Safety Code by November under current regulations. The organization, however, explained that many providers and other groups have found the code to no longer be effective. It risks significant disruption to many facility operations, they say. 

“It is absolutely essential to make sure that the physical infrastructure of nursing home buildings provides maximum protection against fires. This is not about paperwork compliance; it is about saving vulnerable lives,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan wrote. 

The group added that CMS in the past has allowed providers to request waivers for up to five years to address problems found with the fire and life safety regulatory requirement. It called on the agency to adopt the updated 2021 edition of the Life Safety Code and provide a waiver to allow the use of the most recent version. 

LeadingAge also called on the agency to finalize a proposed rule on the matter, which had been delayed due to the pandemic. 

“Providers who serve a high percentage of Medicaid beneficiaries — and thus, Medicaid nursing home residents — would be the most egregiously harmed if the waivers end with no action by CMS,” Sloan warned. “At a time when providers and residents are working to come back from the shock of the pandemic, the harm is even greater.”