TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas nursing homes are facing a spike in fines and citations industry members consider heavy-handed enforcement of federal regulations.

The Legislature’s KanCare oversight committee heard concerns from nursing home industries on Wednesday. Industry members said rising citations and penalties from regulatory enforcement surveys make it tough to stay in business and provide care to patients, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported .

Federal fines levied against nursing homes for non-compliance have risen nearly 8,900 percent since 2012, said LeadingAge Kansas, a trade organization representing not-for-profit nursing homes.

“That is millions and millions of dollars that are being sucked directly out of buildings, out of services, out of communities,” said Rachel Monger, vice president of government affairs for LeadingAge.

Monger said the increased fines don’t result from low quality at nursing homes and add to significant challenges the institutions already face, such as limited resources, a small workforce and slow Medicaid reimbursements.

“You don’t have to be a health care expert to know that financially crippling a nursing home is not the way to improve quality of care or quality of life for residents,” she said.

There are several challenges facing nursing homes, but enforcement of safety regulations has actually been lacking, said Mitzi McFatrich, executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care. She said nursing home citations are “routinely under-reported.”

The U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General found in August the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lacked the procedures to make sure incidents of abuse and neglect were reported. The office found in September that Kansas inspectors didn’t properly follow up on about half the deficiencies discovered in nursing homes.

Republican Rep. Dan Hawkins said he met with the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services Sec. Tim Heck to discuss the citation issue. He said Keck committed to creating an improvement workgroup and slowing down the citations and fines.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com