“3-Strikes” Plan Spurs Nursing Home Regulation Debate
By Edgar Walters, published in the Texas Tribute, September 7, 2014
At a hearing in August to evaluate the state agency responsible for Texas’ elderly residents, State Sen. Charles Schwertner singled out seven of the 1,200 nursing homes licensed by the Department of Aging and Disability Services.
“These seven facilities are the worst of the worst,” said Schwertner, a Republican from Georgetown. At the hearing, he proposed a “three-strikes” rule that would force the state to close nursing homes found to have the highest-level violations of federal quality standards on three separate days over 24 months.
The department “needs to have this direction from the Legislature that we are serious about protecting our seniors,” said Schwertner, an orthopedic surgeon and chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. His recommendation emerged from a once-per-decade evaluation of the agency that is stirring arguments about whether the state should do more to supplement federal regulation of the nursing home industry, which in Texas serves nearly 94,000 people. Lawmakers are expected to tackle this issue during the 2015 legislative session.
Nursing facilities have been quick to push back against Schwertner’s proposal. “The nursing home sector remains one of the most heavily regulated settings in health care by both state and federal agencies,” said Kevin Warren, president of the Texas Health Care Association, which advocates for the industry. The state already has “authority in the current regulatory framework to identify infractions, impose financial penalties and require facilities to correct violations within the agency’s state and federal oversight responsibilities,” he said…
AARP Texas has endorsed Schwertner’s proposal and other recommendations that expand the state’s capacity to sanction negligent nursing homes because “almost nothing is being done to improve their performance or to penalize them,”…