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CMS Proposes Rollback of Emergency Preparedness Rules; Accepting Comments

November 14, 2018

On September 17, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule impacting a wide range of Medicare providers that includes revisions to the new emergency preparedness regulations. According to a CMS press release, the proposed rule is part of the agency’s efforts to “relieve burden on healthcare providers by removing unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome Medicare compliance requirements for healthcare facilities.” The emergency preparedness requirements are targeted for rollback even though they were implemented less than a year ago.

The current emergency preparedness provisions represent years of study and review by federal agencies, nursing home providers, emergency preparedness experts, advocates, and others following the horrendous impact of Hurricane Katrina on vulnerable and frail nursing home residents. In the preamble to the current regulations, CMS states that the regulations are based on lessons learned from the past and today’s proven best practices (Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 180 / Friday, September 16, 2016 / Rules and Regulations 63861). Now, however, CMS is proposing to change the rules based solely on its intent to reduce provider burden.  

For a summary of key revisions, click here.

The proposed rule's impact is even more poignant in light of the recent report from the Minority Staff of the Senate Committe on Finance entitled "Sheltering in Danger."  The report examed critical safety failures at nursing homes in Texas and Florida during and after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The report found that these incidents, which in Florida resulted in the deaths of 12 seniors, were not chance accidents but preventable tragedies that resulted from inadequate regulation and oversight, ineffective planning and communications protocols, and questionable decision-making by facility administrators.  Find more information about the report in this recent New York Times article.

Both Consumer Voice and Justice in Aging are extremely concerned that the proposed revisions would make nursing homes less ready when disaster strikes and subject residents to greater danger, even death. 

CMS is accepting comments on the proposed regulations.  Find more information about submitting comments here.

Consumer Voice is sending comments to CMS.  Find information about signing onto our letter here.

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