All U.S. nursing homes would have to install automatic sprinkler systems throughout their facilities in order to receive Medicare or Medicaid payments under proposed CMS regulations. Currently, only new nursing homes and those undergoing renovations must be equipped with sprinkler systems. Since March 2005, nursing homes without sprinklers have been required to place battery-operated smoke alarms in patient rooms and public areas. In its proposed regulations, the CMS asked for public and industry recommendations on an appropriate phase-in time to allow older homes to retrofit. The agency estimated the rule would cost $47.8 million to $69.9 million annually with a 10-year phase-in; $73.5 million to $107.5 million annually with a seven-year phase-in; and $107.7 million to $157.6 million annually with a five-year phase-in. The public comment period will end Dec. 26. -- by Jessica Zigmond
CMS proposes nursing home fire-safety rules
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