Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it plans to focus more on quality improvement initiatives rather than stricter surveys, but that didn’t stop a pair of veteran U.S. senators from calling for more stringent measures.

Sens. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) sent a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner asking the agency head to work with Congress “to improve the survey and certification process as a whole.” 

The senators were indignant that many facilities with errors still passed their respective surveys. The April 2 letter was prompted by report findings from the HHS Office of Inspector General that said that 22% of Medicare beneficiaries experienced an adverse event — most of them preventable — during a nursing home stay after a hospitalization.

Nursing home “surveys should be able to identify problems that exist before they compromise patient care,” the senators wrote in their letter.

“We must — and should — do more,” they added after acknowledging that providers have made quality improvements in some areas.