Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) have decided to give the Nursing Home Transparency & Improvement Act of 2009 another try at passing. Their goal with the bill… increase accountability in the nursing home industry and sort out the network of owners that run many facilities.

The bill comes out of growing concerns about homes owned by large private equity firms who often build complex corporate structures to shield them from liability. Under this legislation nursing homes would have to name the members of the groups that own them, give the organizational structures of all affiliated entities and give information about those involved in the management, operation and financing.

The bill would require a real time system for reporting staffing information to the US DHHS cutting down on a facility trying to manipulate its staffing numbers. The CMS website would be able to provide more information on its Nursing Home Compare website including the ownership information, staffing data and a standardized complaint reporting form.

The legislation would also give the government more enforcement options including flexibility in assessing penalties and collecting money sooner. It would require facilities to come up with compliance and ethics plans to prevent civil, criminal and administrative violations. Facilities would also have to develop internal quality assurance standards.

The last thing the legislation would do is require HHS to come up with a national monitoring program to watch over multi-state and large intrastate nursing home chains.

The goal is more transparency, better enforcement and improved staff training according to Sen. Grassley. Currently the bill is pending before the Finance Committee.

Tammy Schroeder