CMS Focuses on COVID-19 Nursing Home Care

Client Alert

Gibbons Special Alert

June 10, 2020

Nursing homes are facing new scrutiny and enhanced enforcement actions from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) for violations of infection control practices. In its June 1, 2020 announcement, CMS announced it is increasing enforcement of civil monetary penalties and imposing other unspecified enforcement actions on nursing homes that have infection control violations. On June 4, 2020, CMS posted its first set of COVID-19 nursing home data, showing that 88 percent of the 15,400 Medicare and Medicaid nursing homes had reported required data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and that these facilities reported more than 32,000 COVID-19 deaths.

CMS will be “ratcheting up penalties for noncompliance with infection control” as $80 billion is now available to states under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) to increase state survey activities. According to CMS, information obtained from surveys and inspections will be used “to strengthen CMS enforcement action going forward such that nursing homes are held accountable for resident care.”

In addition to the enhanced enforcement activities, CMS will make technical assistance available to low performing nursing homes via its QIO (Quality Improvement Organization) program.

In light of the high fatality rate of COVID-19 cases occurring in nursing homes, we anticipate that nursing homes will be facing scrutiny not only from CMS, but also from state regulatory agencies and the plaintiffs’ bar. Gibbons attorneys are experienced in representing a wide array of healthcare institutions, including nursing homes, hospital systems, and home health providers.