Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) have introduced legislation to improve nursing home care by increasing transparency about ownership and operations, enforcing stiffer penalties and developing staff training.
If passed, the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act of 2008 would add more information to Medicares Nursing Home Compare Web site, including nursing home ownership details, a complaint form, and links to nursing home inspection reports. It would also require nursing homes to provide more details in cost reporting.
The federal government now spends $75 billion annually on nursing homes through Medicare and Medicaid, and spending is projected to rise as costs associated with the boomer generation increase, Kohl said in a written summary of his report to the Senate. Congress has a responsibility to demand high-quality services for residents and accountability from the nursing home industry in returns for this huge investment of public resources.
The bill would also enforce stiffer penalties. For example, rather than imposing civil penalties of up to $10,000, HHS would be able to impose a range of penalties of up to $100,000 for a deficiency resulting in death. Regarding staff training, the bill would require a study on increased training requirements either in content or hours for nurse aides and supervisory staff. It would also improve staff training to include dementia management and abuse-prevention training. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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