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Medicare to ratchet up enforcement against nursing homes as coronavirus fatalities exceed 25,000

Andrew Kerr on June 2, 2020

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) unveiled enhanced enforcement actions on Monday against nursing homes after preliminary federal data shows that at least 25,923 nursing home residents across the country have died from coronavirus.

“This data, and anecdotal reports across the country, clearly show that nursing homes have been devastated by the virus,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma and Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield wrote in a letter to U.S. governors on Sunday.

CMS will ratchet up penalties for nursing homes with longstanding violations of infection control practices, according to the letter. Nursing homes that received low health survey scores from CMS prior to the coronavirus outbreak are more likely to have more cases among its residents than facilities that received high scores, according to the agency.

“The Trump Administration is taking consistent action to protect the vulnerable,” Verma said in a statement Monday. “While many nursing homes have performed well and demonstrated that it’s entirely possible to keep nursing homes patients safe, we are outlining new instructions for state survey agencies and enforcement actions for nursing homes that are not following federal safety requirements.”

At least 25,923 nursing home residents have died from coronavirus as of May 24 according to CMS, but those figures are likely to increase as only 80% of Medicare-regulated nursing homes have reported figures to the agency.

CMS’s figures are at least 14,000 deaths too low according to an NBC News tally that has tracked nearly 40,000 nursing home coronavirus deaths, which represents nearly 40% of all coronavirus deaths in the country.

New Jersey and New York lead the country in coronavirus deaths among nursing home residents, according to CMS’s figures.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has faced criticism for his March 25 order that nursing homes cannot deny admission to coronavirus patients, an order which critics say contributed to the state’s massive nursing home fatality rate.

Cuomo has has argued that his state’s directive was in line with a March 13 order from CMS that stated nursing homes “should admit any individuals they normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present.”

Verma said last Wednesday that Cuomo was wrong to attempt to deflect blame for his order on the federal government.

“Under no circumstances should a hospital discharge a patient to a nursing home that’s not prepared to take care of those patients’s needs,” the CMS chief said on Fox News Radio. “The federal guidelines are absolutely clear about this.”

“Yes, the nursing homes will have COVID positive people … if they are prepared to handle the unique needs of that patient,” Verma said. “Anytime you discharge a patent from the hospital it is the responsibility of the hospital to make sure that the patient is safe when they discharge them.”

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Anonymous June 3, 2020

    Nursing homes are not equipped to care for multiple isolation patients such as COVID 19. Most do not have negative pressure rooms and they have mostly 2 and some bed ward rooms. Bathrooms are shared in most of the Nursing Homes and the funding is not sufficient to have all infectious patients in private rooms. Most Nursing Homes have very few private beds. No patient should have been admitted with the virus and all testing positive should have been sent to a hospital for care.

  2. Avatar
    Eugenia Sherman June 3, 2020

    This deal about the covid infected patients returned or sent to nursing homes has a little bit of the Obama Health Advisory on who lives or who dies, due to the lack of medical treatment. Cuomo is willing to abort a baby up until and even on the day of birth. What makes you think he is sympathetic to senior citizens. I hope I am wrong but it just feels intentional – devalued humanity is dispensible.

  3. Avatar
    Jeff June 3, 2020

    Remember Tucker’s Point on “Projection” … The House formed a “committee to judge the Presidents Corona-virus response “… Knowing the crimes that the left were perpetrating and prepared to perpetrate against the Seniors as well as the Nation. Genocide and total state control. Call them what you will, but the tree is judged by the fruit and that fruit is Communism… Same as the rioters and looters.

  4. Avatar
    Anonymous June 3, 2020

    We the genreal public saw this several months ago whe we found out that the govenment was allowing the hospitals to release older patients back tp nursing home and then the disease was transmitted to others in the homes. Could never figureout why our Governor in Minnesota could not figure that out. I guess that you can some what blame the nursing homes as I would imagine if they had empty beds that they were happy to take these people at about $8,000 a month or more.

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