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Consumer Voice Executive Director Offers Recommendations During Today's Senate Finance Committee Hearing

July 23, 2019

Consumer Voice Executive Director Lori Smetanka was a witness during today's Senate Finance Committee Hearing - "Promoting Elder Justice: A Call for Reform."

Lori testified that although federal law requires nursing homes to provide residents with services that help attain and maintain their highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being, reports continue to indicate that too many nursing homes fail to meet minimum standards of care that they voluntarily agreed to follow as a requirement of participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  Lori's testimony highlighted recommendations including:

  • Requiring standards for a sufficient, well-trained, well-supervised workforce
  • Establishing standards and oversight for facility ownership and operations, and expanding accountability to the corporate level
  • Implementing, enforcing and preventing the rollback of standards
  • Increasing transparency of information
  • Strengthening and funding elder justice provisions

Lori's full statement is available here.

Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) provided statements

Other witnesses included - Megan H. Tinker, Senior Advisor for Legal Review, Office of Counsel to the Inspector General, United States Department of Health and Human Services who noted that far too often, abuse and neglect are hidden and unreported and emphasized the need for common sense safeguards to be implemented.

John E. Dicken, Director of Health Care, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) emphasized how often abuse remains underreported, and he also reviewed the recommendations from the GAO's recent report - Nursing Homes: Improved Oversight Needed to Better Protect Residents from Abuse - including requiring state agencies to report and assess trends and identify gaps, the need for CMS to develop and disseminate guidelines and create standardized forms, and the need for CMS to confirm that all state agencies report abuse.

Robert B. Blancato, National Coordinator, Elder Justice Coalition described nursing home abuse as a national emergency and emphasized the need for better oversight by CMS, as well as the need to reauthorize the Elder Justice Act.

Mark Parkinson, President & Chief Executive Officer, American Health Care Association noted the need for collaboration to solve these problems.  He focused his remarks on creating a better background check system, adding patient satisfaction to Nursing Home Compare, and improving the shortage of nursing home workers.  He said that funding issues need to be addressed so nursing homes can focus on quality rather than how to keep their doors open.

For all witness statements, click here.

Add Your Voice By Submitting a Statement for Record

Any individual or organization wanting to present their views for inclusion in the hearing record should submit a typewritten, single-spaced statement, not exceeding 10 pages in length. Title and date of the hearing, and the full name and address of the individual or organization must appear on the first page of the statement. Statements must be received no later than two weeks following the conclusion of the hearing.

Statements must be mailed (not faxed) to:
Senate Committee on Finance
Attn. Editorial and Document Section
Rm. SD-219
Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510-6200

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