SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, as part of a multistate coalition, sent a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma urging immediate action to increase transparency and outreach from nursing homes as coronavirus continues to spread throughout these Medicare and Medicaid facilities. CMS recently issued guidance to ensure that nursing homes quickly notify family members of illness and provide data to federal public health institutions on the presence of coronavirus in their facilities. But, as of yet, it has failed to propose any regulations or rules to implement and enforce this guidance. In the letter, the coalition calls on CMS to back up its guidance with concrete action so that public health institutions can accurately assess the spread of coronavirus and families can make informed decisions about what is best for their loved ones.
“As the coronavirus continues to isolate families from their loved ones, providing swift and accurate information on coronavirus cases should be the bare minimum we expect from nursing home facilities,” said Attorney General Becerra. “These facilities house some of our most vulnerable populations, we must do everything we can to protect them. While California is already taking steps, it’s important that CMS act immediately to implement and enforce new national guidelines that will increase transparency and ensure family members are notified by nursing homes as coronavirus cases occur.”
In the letter, the multistate coalition argues that having accurate information about the presence of coronavirus in nursing homes is absolutely essential in order for public health institutions to better understand the extent of the disease and for family members to plan for the well-being of their loved ones. While CMS claims in its guidance to nursing home facilities that it will engage in rulemaking and provide additional guidance on the implementation and enforcement of the new reporting requirements, it has yet to do so. California recently began requiring similar reporting of coronavirus data at a state level for nursing homes, but CMS regulations clarifying federal reporting requirements would help families nationwide to obtain this essential information. The coalition makes clear that failure to act is unacceptable and highlights the urgent need for CMS to step up as coronavirus continues to devastate nursing homes across the country.
Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of New York, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia in sending the letter.
A copy of the letter can be found here.