California joined a coalition of 16 states and the District of Columbia Wednesday in submitting a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services condemning federal actions that would delay the enforcement of protections for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries receiving care in skilled nursing facilities.
The new set of requirements put forward by the Trump administration would roll back long-term care reforms instituted in 2016 to improve the safety and well-being of nursing home residents by providing protections against abuse, neglect and exploitation, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a Los Angeles news conference.
In the letter, the coalition proactively expresses concerns in anticipation of the June rule-making period that will revisit requirements deemed to be burdensome for facilities.
“It is our duty to be vigilant of the health and safety of our aging loved ones,” Becerra said. “America’s seniors who reside in skilled nursing facilities deserve quality care from trained and capable staff. California has made great strides in holding accountable those who take advantage of vulnerable communities.”
“The Trump administration is now attempting to strip our seniors of crucial protections that shield them from nursing home abuse, neglect and exploitation,” according to the AG. “This is reckless. The California Department of Justice stands ready to take any action necessary to protect our loved ones.”
In 2016, a set of long-term care reforms were instituted to prevent the spread of infections in nursing homes; improve training for staff; provide protections against abuse of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries; and ban arbitration agreements.
Those standards were scheduled to take effect in phases, with the second set to have taken effect last November. However, the health department 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, officials said.
“Sadly, because the elderly tend to suffer physical ailments and memory difficulties, they are particularly vulnerable to abuse,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “I stand with Attorney General Xavier Becerra in calling for adequate regulation and oversight of nursing homes, and in opposing federal guidelines proposed by the current administration that would undermine basic standards of care. We cannot put profits ahead of basic human dignity.”
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