Washington, D.C. —Mark Parkinson, President and CEO at the American Health Care Association (AHCA), made the following statement regarding the hearing scheduled by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations for Thursday, September 6, 2018 entitled “Examining Federal Efforts to Ensure Quality of Care and Resident Safety in Nursing Homes:”
“Long term care providers went to CMS nearly seven years ago to propose quality measures aimed at improving the quality of care in facilities across the country. Our goals were specific, timebound and aggressive. Since that time, nursing homes have drastically reduced the number of people going back to the hospital, saving the health care system more than $2 billion. Many of our members have reduced their rehospitalization rates by 30 percent. At the same time, unnecessary medication use has fallen, with more than half of our members reducing antipsychotic use by 30 percent, and we’ve set a new goal for another 10 percent reduction by 2021. Nursing homes also have improved on 20 of the 24 quality measures that are published by CMS. Staffing levels have increased and AHCA supported implementation of new publicly reported staffing measures based on payroll information. Modern skilled nursing rehabilitation facilities are not like the nursing homes of the 1970s, but we continue to be treated as if we are the same, or worse.
“Instead of praise for this progress, we have been subjected to additional scrutiny and criticism. Some advocates now claim that the measures are flawed or the numbers are invalid because they are “self-reported” even though quality measures are based on detailed clinical information from the electronic medical record that CMS requires all nursing homes to use. There is no question that health care in any setting involves continual improvement, but at some point, the progress nursing homes have made should be acknowledged.
“The reality is that nursing homes are a convenient political punching bag. Over the years, Congress has turned to us to pay for everything from student loan debt relief to Medicare physician payments. Today, members of the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee are meeting to discuss whether CMS and OIG exercise enough oversight to ensure that nursing home residents are free from abuse and receive the proper level of care. At a time when Congress faces public criticism for its failure to work together and accomplish shared goals, this hearing seems like a misguided effort to find more ways to regulate an already overburdened sector. Long term care is one of the most regulated industries in the country, yet we’ve shown some of the most dramatic improvement on both self-reported and government quality measures.
“Instead of focusing only on one-sided rhetoric, anecdotes and preconceived beliefs, I hope the members of the Subcommittee will use today’s hearing to look at the objective data that demonstrates the quality care that our country’s nursing homes and caregivers provide every day to some of the most respected and deserving elderly who can no longer care for themselves at home.”
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 13,700 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahca.org or www.ncal.org.