A group of long-term care patient advocates on Thursday sent a letter to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), criticizing the lame-duck legislator’s new “Enhancing Quality through Survey System Improvements Act of 2010.”

The Coalition for Quality Care blasted Stupak’s bill as “a veritable ‘wish list’ for the nursing home providers and industry lobbyists who have vigorously fought attempts to hold them accountable for meeting even minimum standards for safety and dignity.” The chief provision of the bill says that skilled nursing facilities deemed to be “top-tier’ facilities would be subject to a full, standard survey once every three years, instead of once each year. During off years, there would be an annual half-day on-site review of quality of life and safety issues.

“From our perspective, the idea of identifying a nebulous ‘top tier’ of nursing homes for this special lax system of oversight does not in any way ameliorate the enormous risk of potential harm in radically decreasing survey frequency,” wrote Richard Mollot, chairman of CQC’s steering committee.

The American Health Care Association, in a statement released shortly after the bill’s July 30 introduction, said the proposal “would ensure a more efficient use of resources by enhancing CMS’s ability to focus additional time and energy on facilities that are in the greatest need of guidance.”