BALTIMORE, MD (May 31, 2018) – Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh today joined a coalition of 17 Attorneys General in submitting a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) condemning federal actions that would delay the enforcement of protections for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who receive care in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).
“Residents of nursing homes are among the most vulnerable people in our communities,” said Attorney General Frosh. “Our federal government should be strengthening protections for them, not tearing them down. And the last thing the Trump Administration should be doing is reducing penalties for nursing homes that abuse, neglect or exploit our neighbors who are in their care.”
In 2016, a set of CMS long-term care reforms was instituted to prevent the spread of infections in nursing homes; improve training for staff; provide protections against abuse, neglect, and exploitation of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries; and ban arbitration agreements. These standards were scheduled to take effect in three phases. The second set of reforms was scheduled to take effect on November 28, 2017. However, CMS 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.
In the letter to HHS, the Attorneys General warned that CMS’ recent actions to roll back protections, if allowed to advance, would not only threaten the mental and physical security of seniors in nursing homes, but also would potentially create additional challenges for the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Attorney General’s Office. Rolling back these important and much needed long-term care regulations will result in greater challenges for holding criminals and other violators accountable.
Joining Attorney General Frosh in sending today’s letter, led by California, are the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.