The ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance on Monday blasted a proposal from the Trump Administration to ease requirements that nursing homes must meet to prepare for emergencies.
In a letter to the chief of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said he believes the proposal would only “undercut” patient safety, rather than strengthen it.
“It is troubling to see CMS decide to further roll back its already inadequate safeguards with this proposed rule, which does more to cut corners than cut costs,” Wyden wrote. “The Trump administration’s proposal not only strips patients of commonsense protections in order to pad the pockets of medical providers, but goes against the recommendations of well-respected national organizations charged with developing best practices for workplace and consumer safety.”
Wyden’s letter coincided with Monday’s deadline to submit comments on the proposed law, intended to ease burdens for providers. Changes would include requiring nursing homes to conduct only one testing exercise annually, instead of two, and eliminating the “duplicative requirement” that an emergency plan documents efforts to contact local, state and federal emergency prep officials. Provider advocates expressed mixed feelings about the proposal last week, while patient advocates have opposed it.
The senator said CMS’ rulemaking is ill-timed in the wake of 12 deaths at a Florida nursing home last year after Hurricane Irma. “Sheltering in Danger,” a subsequent report from Wyden and other democratic lawmakers released earlier this month, also accused skilled nursing providers of being unprepared for natural disasters. He added that savings to each facility would be “negligible,” noting a government estimate that it would reduce average provider annual costs by about $2,100 across all types of medical facilities.