Implementation and Enforcement of Quality and Safety in Long-Term Care
Burris, S., de Guia, S., Gable, L., Levin, D.E., Parmet, W.E., Terry, N.P. (Eds.) (2020). Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19. Boston: Public Health Law Watch
5 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2020
Date Written: July 31, 2020
Long before the new coronavirus struck, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have had declining quality care that coincides with inadequate staffing and rampant infections. These pre-pandemic conditions increased the vulnerability of these facilities to an infectious disease outbreak. As the elderly death toll rises into the tens of thousands, an overdue national discussion on how to prioritize long-term care in the US has emerged, revealing an opportunity to better link quality care metrics with sufficient reimbursement and meaningful regulatory oversight. However, the opposite approach has also surfaced, which would allow the status quo to continue and may erode the minimum standards of care that currently exist. This concerning trend is on the rise with efforts to relax the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulatory authority over nursing homes by waiving requirements and reducing enforcement penalties. In addition, states are passing measures to limit liability exposure for nursing homes during COVID-19 and similar protections are under consideration at the federal level, even as infection rates climb and there is no evidence of frivolous lawsuits. While political will is uncertain, public outcry is ready for legislative reform that will lead to better later-in-life care. The stakes have never been higher — act now and pass laws that connect funding with regulation to support quality care in nursing homes during and after the COVID-19 pandemic — or continue to condone practices that allow infection to spread and take many lives before their time.
This paper was prepared as part of Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19, a comprehensive report published by Public Health Law Watch in partnership with the de Beaumont Foundation and the American Public Health Association.
Keywords: COVID-19, coronavirus, legal responses, pandemic, public health, law, public health law, long term care, congregate living, assisted living
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