Rolling back regulatory reforms that help protect America’s 1.5 million nursing home residents from abuse, neglect and exploitation would place some of the nation’s most vulnerable people at risk, and organizations and State Attorneys General across the country are standing up. Led by California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, a coalition of 16 states and the District of Columbia has condemned federal actions that may delay the enforcement of protections for seniors who receive skilled nursing care.

The Safety of Nursing Home Residents is At Stake

The actions would roll back the CMS regulations that were instituted in 2016. These reforms were meant to improve the well-being and safety of residents in nursing homes by implementing standards to reduce the spread of infections; improve training for staff members; ban arbitration agreements; and protect nursing home residents against exploitation, abuse, and neglect.

Attorney General Becerra stated that the authorities must be vigilant of the safety and health of the elderly that reside in skilled nursing facilities. Despite the strides in ensuring that those who abuse the vulnerable people in nursing homes are held accountable, the federal actions are stripping the elderly of these protections. He added that the California Department of Justice was ready to take any action that would be necessary for the safety of the elderly population.

CMS Reforms Enhanced Safety

The CMS care reforms were to be implemented in three phases with the second phase due at the end of November 2017. Unfortunately, the implementation of some penalties resulting from the abuse and neglect of nursing home residents, including financial penalties and the termination of eligibility for Medicaid and Medicare funding, was delayed by 18 months. Moreover, the number of penalties and frequency of prosecutions from past violations were also greatly reduced. Monetary penalties were an essential tool in forcing the nursing homes to ensure the safety of the elderly in their care. However, these standards were deemed to be burdensome to facilities.

Many residents of nursing facilities suffer from physical impairments, chronic illnesses, and cognitive difficulties, making them easy targets for abuse, neglect, and exploitation. According to AARP, rolling back the regulations and deferring the implementation of penalties for violations will negatively impact safety in nursing homes, placing the well-being of residents in jeopardy.