Government's Pilot Program To Track Nursing Home Care Improvements After Cash Incentives

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin a new pilot program this summer to track how cash incentives to nursing homes improve care. Last year, the government published the names of 131 of the nation’s worst nursing homes. Now, says the Wall Street Journal, the federal government is increasing efforts to improve nursing home care by implementing an evaluative Web-based tool.

The pilot program will specifically look at nurse staffing and preventable hospitalizations, said the Journal. The CMS agency also flags those listed as the worst, which has increased to about 135, on the Web site. The most problematic facilities are labeled as “Special Focus Facilities,” noted the Journal.

In a harrowing example of the widespread problem of elder abuse and negligence, last year, the family of a deceased man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against officials at that state's largest nursing home chain. The suit claimed that misappropriation of  funds by the nursing home's chief executive officer contributed to “deplorable conditions.” The family also sought permission to sue the state departments of public health and social services, and the state’s long-term care ombudsman, for failing to investigate and act on complaints lodged by the family.

The deceased family member was a patient at the nursing home for over two years when he was rushed to a hospital after his wife found him in excruciating pain and his legs gangrenous and in early rigor mortis, allegedly due to an untreated and infected pressure sore on his hip and physical restraints that immobilized him. The man died two days later.

There are roughly 16,400 nursing homes nationwide and taxpayers spend about $72.5 billion annually to subsidize nursing home care. Late last year the CMS began ranking nursing homes “based on government inspection results, staffing data, and quality measures” via the “Nursing Home Compare” system, which is available at medicare.gov/NHCompare, said the Journal. For more, read the story.

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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia. 

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