Government Steps Up Nursing Home Enforcement
"[U]nder instructions from President Clinton to toughen enforcement," the federal government has increased oversight of nursing homes nationwide, resulting in a fivefold increase in fines since 1996. The New York Times reports that the nursing homes cited for violations "have been accused of filing false claims for federal medical insurance when they harmed patients by not meeting federal standards." Ninety-five percent of U.S. nursing homes participate in Medicare or Medicaid, and thus are subject to the federal standards. The following is a sample of cases in which nursing homes were fined or officials were convicted of crimes:
- The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals "recently upheld a penalty of $1,300 a day" against a Utah nursing home charged with allowing "patients to develop pressure sores, or bedsores," calling the fine "appropriate and reasonable" because the facility "caused harm to patients by flouting federal standards."
- The government recently brought lawsuits against three Philadelphia nursing homes, charging that they had filed "false, fictitious or fraudulent claims" because they failed to provide the services they promised. All reached settlements with the government of more than $60,000.
- In October, an Oklahoma nursing home owner and a former deputy commissioner of the state health department were convicted in federal court on bribery charges after prosecutors said the official had given "favorable treatment" to the owner's nursing homes in exchange for a bribe.