In a win for the nursing home industry, the Trump administration is relaxing the use of fines against nursing homes that provide less-than-optimum care for their patients, including those that place the elderly residents at risk of injury or actually cause them harm.
The shift in the Medicare program’s penalty protocols was requested by the nursing home industry. The American Health Care Association, the industry’s main trade group, has complained that under President Barack Obama, federal inspectors focused excessively on catching wrongdoing rather than helping nursing homes improve.
The Times reports that 4 in 10 nursing homes have been cited for a serious violation at least once since 2013, including citations for "failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores".
The new guidelines discourage regulators from levying fines in some situations, even when they have resulted in a resident’s death. The guidelines will also probably result in lower fines for many facilities.
In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rescinded another Obama administration action that banned nursing homes from pre-emptively requiring residents to submit to arbitration to settle disputes rather than going to court.