May 6, 2019
As Moratorium Ends, Do Levies Loom?

This month, the feds will liſt a temporary ban on citation fines

Here’s how to keep your facility in the clear

Since late 2017, Washington officials stopped fining facilities for deficiencies in eight areas of operation. Some of the penalties forgiven include those related to behavioral health services, antibiotic stewardship, as well as facility smoking violations.

When the 18-month moratorium officially ends on May 28th, industry operators wonder: Without the ban, are we looking at severe penalties? What can we do to prepare?

To start, consider the fact that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services never stopped citing facilities for their insufficiencies. Data shows we still have work to do.

The Numbers Of Noncompliance

Approaches to inspection

The original goal of the moratorium was to buy facilities time to educate staff about Medicare and Medicaid’s new safety standards.

“The American Health Care Association and its state affiliates have held workshops across the country to acquaint operators with the new rules,” writes Marty Stempniak of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. Senior vice president of the AHCA, David Gifford adds, “Lost caregiving time due to compliance activities will likely be the biggest expense most facilities see.”

In the past, CMS has not only fined operators (on a one-time basis or for each day the facility fails to rectify the problem). They also refused to issue new Medicaid payments as a roundabout way of penalizing noncompliant nursing homes.

SpecialtyRx recommends a healthy review of new Phase 2 regulation, particularly for facilities that have been cited in recent years. While employee workshops may not be possible in the coming weeks, try to revisit relevant topics during your formal and informal interactions with staff. Awareness may be the key to penalty avoidance.

Facilities can also recommit to spending quality one-on-one time with patients, as a number of the levies connect to issues of neglect. Other areas include administration of psychotropic medications, facility assessment, QAPI programs, and more.