The CMS Tuesday unveiled a new initiative aimed at improving safety at nursing homes.
Under the Civil Money Penalty Reinvestment Program, the CMS will develop a variety of training products for nursing home professionals including staff competency assessment tools, instructional guides, webinars and technical assistance seminars.
These materials aim to help staff reduce adverse events, improve dementia care and strengthen staffing quality, including by reducing staff turnover and enhancing performance.
"We are pleased to offer nursing home staff practical tools and assistance to improve resident care and positively impact the lives of individuals in our nation's nursing homes," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.
The three-year effort is funded by federal civil penalties, which are fines nursing homes pay the CMS when they are noncompliant with regulations, and there are serious concerns about the safety and quality of care they provide. It's unclear how much the agency collects in civil money penalties from nursing homes each year, and a CMS spokesman did not return a request for comment.
The American Health Care Association, the lobbying group for nursing homes, did not immediately respond for comment either.
As part of the program, the CMS released a new nursing home staff competency assessment. The document contains questions to gauge staff knowledge about behavioral, technical and resident-based capabilities.
The new effort comes months after the CMS announced it wanted to set new civil money penalties on nursing home staff.
A proposed rule in the works to implement a federal law would allow the CMS to impose enforcement actions on nursing home staff in cases of elder abuse or other illegal activities, the agency announced in a notice Friday.
The regulation being developed will outline how the CMS would impose civil money penalties of up to $200,000 against nursing home staff or volunteers who fail to report reasonable suspicion of crimes. In addition, the proposed regulation would allow a two-year exclusion from federal health programs for retaliating against whistleblowers.
The CMS has been under increased congressional pressure to improve safety standards following ongoing media reports of abuse, neglect and substandard care occurring at nursing facilities across the country in recent years.
"Analysis conducted by one news outlet found that between 2013 and 2016, the federal government cited more than 1,000 nursing homes for either mishandling cases related to, or failing to protect residents against, rape, sexual abuse, or sexual assault, with nearly 100 facilities incurring multiple citations," the Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee noted in documents for a Sept. 4 hearing.