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Congress Puts Pressure on Nursing Home Oversight

Congress Puts Pressure on Nursing Home Oversight

On April 3rd, four Republican Congressmen sent a letter to federal regulators that asked for answers about the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) oversight of nursing homes. The request is part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's official examination of the ways the agency watches skilled nursing providers across the nation.

The primary focus if the inquiry appears to be the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. This center is now infamously known for not having sufficient power supplies after Hurricane Irma touched down in Florida last fall. The lack of power supplies allegedly contributed to the deaths of 14 residents at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.

The letter penned by lawmakers also meticulously requests the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide any information that they have regarding Jack Michel. Michel, is head of the company that at owns Hollywood Hills. In the past, Michel has had run-ins with regulators and law enforcement in regards to several other healthcare facilities he either owned or operated.

The nine-page letter was sent to CMS Administrator Seema Verma and specifically asked about information that reveals what CMS has been doing about “reports of sexual abuse and neglect” in skilled nursing and nursing facilities around the country.

According to the letter, “The committee has been closely following recent media reports describing horrific instances of abuse, neglect, and patient harm allegedly occurring at SNFs and NFs across the country.” The letter also notes “the adequacy of the CMS' oversight” and calls recent reports from the Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office into question.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS), Subcommittee on Health Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), and   Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL) wrote, “These reports raise serious questions about the degree to which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is fulfilling its responsibility.”

The lawmakers went on to detail recent news stories and reports from federal agencies that describe hundreds of incidents of neglect or abuse that weren’t investigated in a timely manner, or were never investigated at all. The letter asks for CMS to brief lawmakers on the issues they are concerned about no later than April 16. The letter also asks for further information to be provided no later than April 23.

Requests for documents or background information about complaints related to hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria were also made, as well as a request for survey- and certification-related documents and complaint findings since Jan. 1, 2010. Additionally, lawmakers are seeking information on Special Focus Facilities' oversight and what CMS does to ensure the proper licensing of nursing home staff.

Have your or a loved one experienced nursing home abuse or neglect? We can help. Contact our team of Greenville nursing home abuse attorneys to find out what we can do for you.

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