Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)

A new House bill aims to improve the nursing home survey process, enhance whistleblower protections for surveyors and establish an advisory committee for CMS that would include skilled nursing facility administrators, directors of nursing and other stakeholders. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced the Nursing Home Patient Protection and Standards Act of 2013 on Tuesday.

The legislation responds to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report on survey understatements among state surveyors. The 2009 report found that 46% of surveyors and 36% of directors felt there were weaknesses in the traditional survey methodology.

It’s not the first attempt at legislation to address the issue, although Roybal-Allard said she hopes her introduction of the bill will raise the level of nursing home oversight.

“Regardless of what state they live in, Americans deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing their loved ones in long-term care are being treated with care and compassion,” Roybal-Allard said in a statement to McKnight’s. “… My bill seeks to raise the competence of state nursing home surveyors and increase the quality of the nursing home survey process across the country. It also takes critical steps to shield surveyors from inappropriate political pressure.”

A section of the bill addresses compensation and training for surveyors. The bill also proposes making surveyors’ tests more rigorous and comprehensive. Nursing home employees or others who seek to inappropriately influence surveyors would be subject to fines up to $10,000.

Roybal-Allard plans to reach out to senators with an interest in long-term care to try and have a companion bill introduced in the Senate.