Chairman Neal Calls on CMS to Ramp Up Oversight of Nursing Homes as Pandemic Continues to Devastate Long-Term Care Facilities

Jul 10, 2020
Press Release
Data suggest more than 55,000 long-term care residents and staff members have died from COVID-19

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Today, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) called on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to increase their oversight of nursing homes and long-term care facilities through improved surveys and data collection. These facilities have been the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all deaths nationwide—a likely underestimate given the inadequate testing as well as reports of missing data. In a letter to Administrator Seema Verma, Chairman Neal urged CMS to ramp up their surveying and improve data collection to give families as well as the public a better understanding of the care they could expect a loved one to receive at a facility.

Congress recognizes the importance of oversight in nursing homes, and allocated $100 million in additional funding to nursing home surveys as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which became law in March.

“There are reports of insufficient survey activity and unreliable data across nursing homes–the very oversight activities necessary to keep patients safe,” wrote Chairman Neal. “Even in typical times, nursing homes are hotspots for infection and disease.”

The Chairman continued: “I have deep concerns that the surveys the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been overseeing since its March 4th guidance to state survey agencies are inadequate to identify deficiencies in these homes. I am also alarmed by the reports of unreliable and missing COVID-19 data the agency reported during June. The combination of inadequate surveys and unreliable data reporting will have dramatic consequences for patients and families who rely on this information to make informed decisions about their care.”

Chairman Neal underscored “the clear congressional imperative for nursing facility surveys and reliable data, as well as the concerns for families and patients around the country about long-term care facilities and COVID-19,” and requested CMS respond to a series of detailed questions regarding nursing home surveys and data by July 24, 2020.

Read the full letter HERE.