The General Accounting Office last week criticized HHS' fiscal 2002 plan to fight Medicare and Medicaid fraud and ensure that government beneficiaries receive high-quality nursing home services.
For example, the GAO said in its 44-page report on HHS' plans that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lacks clear standards for modernizing its outdated financial management system.
However, just four days before the GAO released its report, HHS' inspector general's office on July 13 for the first time barred a nursing home operator from Medicare and Medicaid for delivering poor quality of care.
The office banned Walter Strine Jr. from all federal healthcare programs for five years, saying Strine not only was aware of systemic problems at his two Pennsylvania nursing homes but helped cause the problems by pressuring administrators to continue to admit new patients despite administrators' pleas regarding insufficient staff. The facilities, ChesterCare Center and Manchester House Nursing and Convalescent Center in Media, Pa., were closed in February 2000 and April 2001, respectively. Strine also agreed to pay a $8,250 settlement but admitted no wrongdoing in his agreement with the government. He could not be reached for comment.