Aging Committee chief hears complaints about nursing homes

A legislative proposal would require long-term care facilities to produce a monthly aggregate report of antipsychotic utilization in each facility, in addition to conducting a drug regimen review process.

The Improving Dementia Care Treatment in Older Adults Act (S. 3604), introduced Thursday, is similar to an amendment proposed in May by Sens. Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chuck Grassley, (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal, (D-CT). The trio’s earlier proposal had been attached as an amendment to a Food and Drug Administration reauthorization bill. Although the reauthorization bill passed, the amendment never came up for a vote.

A spokesman for the Senate Special Committee on Aging told McKnight’s that lawmakers hope to build on support expressed for the old amendment.

Their new attempt to address the issue would require nursing homes and assisted living facilities to standardize protocols for obtaining informed consent from a resident or their legally designated representative acknowledging the potential risks and side effects associated with the antipsychotic medications. It also calls for the creation of prescriber education programs and campaigns to promote evidence-based, non-drug treatments for aggressive and agitated dementia residents in long-term care facilities.

“Our legislation provides some straightforward and commonsense steps that will help decrease the improper, dangerous and costly use of antipsychotics and accelerate the shift toward the broader use of safer alternatives,” Kohl, chairman of the committee, said in a statement.

Kohl has been pursing antipsychotic medication reduction for several years. The topic received more attention when a 2011 Office of the Inspector General uncovered widespread overuse of these medications. That report stated that more than half of the 1.4 million claims for atypical antipsychotic drugs totaled $116.5 million and did not comply with Medicare reimbursement criteria.