A group of 12 Democratic U.S. senators slammed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in a letter sent last week, claiming that its leadership’s decision to ease regulatory restrictions on nursing homes has put seniors in danger.
“We write with deep concern over a string of actions by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that will inevitably weaken the safety of our nation’s nursing homes and put patients, many of whom are elderly and wholly reliant on this care, at greater risk,” the senators wrote in a February 14 letter addressed to CMS administrator Seema Verma and Department of Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar.
The Hill first reported on the existence of the letter.
The prominent senators — including Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — specifically asked Azar and Verma to reverse a series of recent orders that curtailed CMS’s regulatory power over skilled nursing facilities.
For instance, under the Trump administration, the agency has moved to delay enforcement of certain new Requirements of Participation, and taken steps to reduce fines levied on skilled nursing providers for select infractions.
“The need to guarantee that the nursing home industry remains safe and sustainable for patients grows more urgent each day,” the senators wrote. “While we understand that many nursing homes diligently work to provide dignified, compassionate, and quality care to their patients, problems persist.”
The group, led by Blumenthal and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, pointed to a 2014 report from the HHS’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which found that about a third of nursing home residents experience some kind of temporary harm during their stays.
“That is why we are so alarmed that CMS seems intent on rolling back or delaying enforcement of regulations that are meant to keep nursing homes safe for the patients they serve,” the letter concludes.
Written by Alex Spanko