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On March 6, 2019, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing entitled “Not Forgotten: Protecting Americans From Abuse and Neglect in Nursing Homes.” The hearing consisted of two panels of witnesses. The first panel included Patricia Blank (daughter of a nursing home neglect victim), Maya Fischer (daughter of a nursing home rape victim), David Grabowski (Harvard Medical School), and David Gifford (American Health Care Association). The second panel included Kate Goodrich (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), Antoinette Bacon (Department of Justice), and Keesha Mitchell (Office of the Ohio Attorney General). The Committee did not invite a single consumer advocate to testify.  As a result, no one effectively countered any false or misleading statements made by CMS or the nursing home industry.

After listening to the heartbreaking testimonies of Ms. Blank and Ms. Fischer, the Committee’s questioning during the first panel centered on one industry excuse for poor care: inadequate Medicaid reimbursement. However, there was no discussion about how nursing homes currently use Medicaid reimbursements for administrative costs rather than to promote direct care, nor a discussion about the risky financial arrangements that have caused many of the recent nursing home closures. The Committee’s focus during the second panel centered on CMS’s efforts to improve oversight. Unfortunately, the Committee did little to push back against misleading claims regarding the implementation and enforcement of the nursing home standards of care.

Ultimately, the hearing was a missed opportunity to have a serious conversation about ongoing resident concerns, such as inappropriate antipsychotic drugging, transfers and discharges, ownership concerns, and “no harm” deficiencies. The Center joined other consumer advocacy organizations in submitting a statement for the record detailing these persistent problems. To read our statement, please see: https://www.medicareadvocacy.org/statement-for-record-us-senate-committee-on-finance-snf-hearing/.

March 7, 2019 – D. Valanejad

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