Neal Seeks Action from CMS and DOJ Following Reports of Abuse and Neglect at Skilled Nursing Facilities

Aug 27, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) sent letters to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma and Department of Justice Associate Deputy Attorney General and National Elder Justice Coordinator Antoinette Bacon expressing extreme concern about the results of a Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS OIG) investigation, which examined high-risk Emergency Department (ED) admissions from skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The HHS OIG found that up to 20 percent of these admissions of Medicare beneficiaries living in SNFs were the result of abuse or neglect that was not reported to state survey agencies or local law enforcement. 

In his letters, Chairman Neal pointed out the severity of the incidents in question – including broken femurs, cracked skulls, and sexual abuse – as well as facilities’ abysmal failure to report the incidents. Survey agencies investigated and substantiated 69 incidents as abuse or neglect, but only two were reported to local law enforcement. “These trends are unacceptable,” the Chairman wrote. 

In light of the report’s findings, Neal requested CMS provide information regarding the agency’s analysis of high-risk ED admissions to SNFs; attempts to identify unreported cases of abuse; actions to ensure that SNFs are reporting potential cases of abuse and neglect to survey agencies and law enforcement; and plan to issue new, clearer guidance on the use of the Automated Survey Processing Environment Complaints/Incidents Tracking System to track, process, and report complaints and incidents reported against health care providers and suppliers that CMS regulates.

Chairman Neal requested the Department of Justice explain what steps the agency is taking to ensure that all cases of abuse and neglect in SNFs are reported to local law enforcement, and describe the work the Elder Justice Initiative, the Elder Justice Working Group, the Civil Rights Division, and the Elder Justice Task Forces have undertaken to identify, investigate, and prosecute unreported cases of abuse and neglect in nursing homes. 

“Every American has a right to live free from abuse and neglect,” wrote Chairman Neal. “This HHS OIG report has proven without a doubt that Medicare beneficiaries are not being protected as they should be.”
Full text of the letter to Administrator Verma is available HERE, and the letter to Associate Deputy Attorney General and National Elder Justice Coordinator Bacon can be found HERE