Donald Trump

Shortly before President Donald Trump was inaugurated, the American Health Care Association sent him a letter asking for regulatory relief, with one of the group’s top executives later saying the organization felt “very optimistic” about the odds of getting some.

It appears that the largest nursing home association in the country succeeded — at least in the area of fines, according to a New York Times report on Christmas Eve. The administration has notably scaled back its use of fines against nursing homes with regard to resident harm, the Times article noted.

New guidelines over the course of 2017 discouraged regulators from imposing excessive fines, the newspaper reported. It is believed the new guides will reduce financial penalties for nursing homes, which would appear to keep in line with the administration’s pledge to reduce regulatory burdens overall.

“Rather than spending quality time with their patients, the providers are spending time complying with regulations that get in the way of caring for their patients and doesn’t increase the quality of care they provide,” reasoned Kate Goodrich, M.D., director of clinical standards and quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in a statement to the NYT.

The article cited CMS memos from July and October  that discouraged regional and state offices from levying fines in specific cases, such as if an incident were a “one-time” event rather than evidence of a systemic problem. The October memo said that one goal is to let surveyors use their own judgment for Immediate Jeopardy citations that do not result in serious injury or death.

Not surprisingly, resident advocates have opposed the push for lesser fines and a lighter regulatory climate, the newspaper noted.