A.G. Underwood Joins 17 Attorneys General Condemning Federal Action Rolling Back Protections For Seniors In Nursing Homes

News from the New York Attorney General's Office 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2018

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A.G. UNDERWOOD JOINS 17 ATTORNEYS GENERAL CONDEMNING FEDERAL ACTION ROLLING BACK PROTECTIONS FOR SENIORS IN NURSING HOMES 

AG Underwood: Gutting These Essential Protections Would Threaten Health and Safety of Millions of New Yorkers

NEW YORK  – Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today joined a coalition of 17 Attorneys General in submitting a letter to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) condemning federal actions that would delay the enforcement of protections for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who receive care in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The actions roll back 2016 CMS regulatory reforms instituted to improve the safety and well-being of nursing home residents by providing protections against abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In the letter, the Attorneys General proactively express their grave concerns in anticipation of the June rulemaking period that will revisit requirements deemed to be burdensome for facilities.

“Gutting these essential protections would threaten the health and safety of the many New Yorkers who rely on nursing home care,” said Attorney General Underwood. “My office will continue to prosecute those who victimize vulnerable nursing home residents.” 

In 2016, a set of CMS long-term care reforms were instituted to prevent the spread of infections in nursing homes; improve training for staff; provide protections against abuse, neglect, and exploitation of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries; and ban arbitration agreements. These standards were scheduled to take effect in three phases. The second set of reforms was scheduled to take effect on November 28, 2017. However, CMS delayed the implementation of certain penalties by 18 months and lowered the frequency and amount of penalties for past violations. Civil monetary penalties are an essential tool to ensure nursing facilities comply with care standards and protect their residents.

In the letter to HHS, the Attorneys General warned that CMS’ recent actions to roll back protections, if allowed to advance, would not only threaten the mental and physical security of seniors in nursing homes, but also would potentially create additional challenges for New York’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU).

MFCU recovers taxpayer money and protects vulnerable nursing homes residents and New York taxpayers by holding criminals and other violators of New York laws accountable. MFCU also works with whistleblowers and law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute fraud perpetrated on the Medicare and Medicaid program at large. In essence, a roll back of these important and much needed long-term care regulations will result in greater challenges for holding criminals and other violators accountable.

Joining Attorney General Underwood in sending today’s letter, led by California, are the Attorneys General of: Connecticut, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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