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Senator Charges Nursing Home Inspection System Is 'Corrupted'

  • July 13th, 2004

The process by which nursing homes and assisted living facilities are inspected is "seriously corrupted," with state inspectors sometimes pressured to overlook or downplay problems, according to a letter Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has sent to Mark McClellan, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Grassley's staff reviewed inspection programs and found that inspectors are "routinely instructed" to downgrade or ignore violations; sometimes rewrite their reports so the facilities' come out looking better; and rarely "thoroughly" review complaints from patients or families.

"The survey process upon which we rely for accurate, objective and independent data ... has been corrupted ... and we need to restore the integrity of the system," says Grassley's letter.

Grassley wants CMS to allow state inspectors to anonymously report problems such as political pressure or data manipulation. He also says CMS should review sudden improvements in reports from facilities with bad track records to determine if the changes are legitimate.

CMS said it looks forward to receiving the letter and "will take appropriate further action to improve the quality of nursing home care."

In an article on Grassley's letter to CMS, USA Today quotes Mary Louise Mock, who worked as an inspector in California until her retirement in 2000. "I had to fight tooth and nail to get action against facilities," says Ms. Mock.

To read the article in USA Today, click on: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/2004-07-11-inspect_x.htm

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Last Modified: 07/13/2004

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