SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a comment letter condemning a new Trump Administration rule that rolls back critical protections for people with disabilities and seniors living in Medicare and Medicaid long-term care facilities. The Rule, proposed by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), would subject Californians residing in long-term care facilities to harm by rolling back beneficiary protections and lowering the quality of care afforded to residents. The Trump Administration frames the Rule as making changes to “unnecessary, obsolete, or excessively burdensome” provisions. Yet, the Rule bypasses statutory requirements, subjecting residents of long-term care facilities to potential harm, and puts states on the hook to ensure no gaps emerge in the health and safety of residents. Over 1,200 skilled nursing facilities are located in California, serving an annual population of about 400,000.
“This reckless rule would deprive Californians who reside in long-term care facilities of protections for quality care,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The Trump Administration is attempting to sidestep the law in order to roll back common-sense safeguards for our most vulnerable family members. We will fight against this rule for the sake of our seniors and people with disabilities. In California, we don’t turn our backs on those who do not have the ability to fight back.”
In the letter Attorney General Becerra criticized the Rule, pointing out that it is both illegal and immoral. The Rule would specifically roll back protections set in place in 2016, the first major revision of long-term care facility standards since 1991. Patients currently have the right to voice grievances with respect to treatment or care, without discrimination or reprisal. Under current law, facilities are also required to resolve grievances. The proposed Rule would allow facilities to sidestep this requirement. The proposed Rule would also eliminate minimum requirements for the amount of time that compliance officers and infection preventionists spend at long-term care facilities. Attorney General Becerra argues that these changes eliminate residents’ rights, conflict with the Affordable Care Act and the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987, and violate the Administrative Procedure Act. Lastly, Attorney General Becerra argues that the rule is arbitrary and without adequate justification, and does not take into account the harms it will cause.
A copy of the comment letter can be found here.