The nation's 1.4 million nursing home residents are a highly vulnerable population of elderly and disabled individuals for whom remaining at home is no longer feasible. The federal government plays a key role in ensuring that nursing home residents receive appropriate care by setting quality requirements that nursing homes must meet to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs and by contracting with states to conduct routine inspections--called standard surveys--and complaint investigations. To encourage compliance with quality requirements, Congress has authorized certain enforcement actions, known as sanctions, such as civil money penalties or termination from participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for imposing federal sanctions, typically on the basis of states' recommendations. One sanction--temporarily replacing a home's management--has been used infrequently. According to CMS guidance, temporary management may be used instead of termination in cases where nursing homes place residents at risk of death or serious injury--referred to as immediate jeopardy--or place residents at widespread risk of actual harm. CMS requires that a nursing home remove any immediate jeopardy within a short time frame of 23 calendar days after the survey or complaint investigation in which it was cited, with or without the assistance of temporary management. Otherwise, CMS will terminate the home from Medicare and Medicaid. In some cases, the nursing home's owner may choose to sell the home to a new owner while the home is still under temporary management. Congress was interested in information on why the temporary management sanction has been used infrequently to address nursing home quality problems and asked us to study this issue. Specifically, we focused on (1) CMS and states' experience with the use of federal temporary management and its effectiveness in achieving compliance in the short and longer term; and (2) obstacles to the use of federal temporary management and how such obstacles could be addressed. Congress also asked us to examine whether changes in ownership occurred when nursing homes were under federal temporary management and to identify obstacles to such ownership changes.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services||To address obstacles to the use of the federal temporary management sanction, the Administrator of CMS should work with states to create and maintain a list or lists of qualified temporary managers on either a regional or national basis.|
|Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services||To address obstacles to the use of the federal temporary management sanction, the Administrator of CMS should work with states to develop additional information that identifies best practices for states and regional offices, including when and how to use the sanction, the essential qualifications for temporary managers, and alternative funding sources available for temporary management, such as civil money penalties funds.|
|Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services||To help ensure the longer-term compliance of nursing homes that have successfully returned to substantial compliance under temporary management, the Administrator of CMS should develop guidance for states to enhance their oversight of such homes, such as implementing reactivation of temporary management if the home does not maintain substantial compliance over the 2 years following the conclusion of the sanction.|