Nursing homes soon could face tougher state surveys and greater regulatory scrutiny.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma made waves in mid-April when she announced that she was directing her agency to undertake a “comprehensive review” of its regulations, guidelines, internal structure and processes related to nursing home safety and quality. 

Verma also asked Congress for $45 million more in fiscal 2020 for survey requirements to help address an increase in the volume and severity of complaints. 

The CMS chief also said she hoped lawmakers would modify the frequency of mandatory nursing home surveys so her agency could focus more on “poor performers.”

Verma’s announcement came not long after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) opened an investigation into nursing home abuse. The Government Accountability Office also released a report in April accusing CMS of failing to adequately address Oregon’s nursing home abuse allegations over the last 15 years.

Verma highlighted five points on how she wants to improve SNF care. The points were: 1) strengthen oversight, 2) enhance enforcement, 3) increase transparency, 4) improve quality and 5) put patients over paperwork.

“We believe that poor performers need to improve, and good performers should be recognized,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan in response to the announcement. “Our members are at the forefront of high-quality nursing home care and we will continue our engagement with all stakeholders on these efforts.