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Gregory Smith is a partner in the Governmental Practice in the firm's New York office.

In a Final Rule issued on May 6, 2024, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) finalized regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (“Section 1557”). The Final Rule updates and strengthens protections for individuals who participate in health programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance (“Covered Entities,” as further defined below). Continue Reading DHHS Bolsters Non-Discrimination Protections for Recipients of Covered Health Care Services and Activities

In a long-awaited and controversial Final Rule posted on April 22, 2024,[1] the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) adopted new federal minimum staffing requirements that will require long-term care facilities to (1) ensure the presence of a registered nurse (RN) on-site 24 hours per day, seven days per week; and (2) provide a minimum of 3.48 total nurse staffing hours per resident day (HPRD), which includes at least 0.55 HPRD for RNs and 2.45 HPRD for nurse aides (NAs). Despite industry-wide opposition to federal minimum staffing standards and the lack of any new funding, CMS believes that these new standards will increase staffing in more than 79 percent of nursing facilities nationwide. Notably, the Final Rule establishes staffing requirements that exceed the current minimum staffing standards in all 50 states.Continue Reading CMS Finalizes Federal Minimum Staffing Standards for Nursing Homes

On November 17, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) will publish a final rule requiring Medicare skilled nursing facilities (“SNFs”) and Medicaid nursing facilities (“Facilities”) to provide more detailed ownership, managerial and other information on Form CMS-855A (the “Final Rule”).[1] The Final Rule also includes new definitions of “private equity company” and “real estate investment trust” for Medicare enrollment purposes for all Medicare institutional providers and suppliers.Continue Reading CMS Issues a Final Rule Requiring Nursing Facilities and Other Providers and Suppliers to Disclose Additional Ownership Information

On September 1, 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a long-awaited proposal to establish new federal minimum staffing standards for long-term care facilities.[1] If the proposed rule is finalized, CMS estimates that approximately 75% of all nursing homes would have to “strengthen staffing in their facilities” in order to meet the new requirements.[2]Continue Reading Long Term Care Facilities Face Mandatory Minimum Staffing Requirements

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently announced changes to its process for informing healthcare industry stakeholders of new or updated Compliance Program Guidance (CPG). Historically, sector-specific CPG has been published in the Federal Register. Going forward, the OIG will publish all current and updated CPG on its website.Continue Reading OIG’s Modernization of Compliance Program Guidance: What to Expect

On February 15, 2023, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule that would require nursing homes enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid to disclose new information about their ownership and management structures. If finalized, the rule would require nursing homes to disclose any ties to private equity companies or real estate investment trusts (REITs) (defined below), as well as the names and information of individuals and entities that provide certain administrative, management or consulting services.Continue Reading CMS Issues Proposed Rule Requiring Nursing Homes to Disclose Additional Ownership Information, Including Ties to Private Equity and REITS

As 2023 begins, the nursing home industry faces unprecedented challenges on multiple fronts. While facilities struggle with a labor crisis, chronic underfunding, high inflation and a combined resurgence of COVID-19 and the flu, the government is ramping up efforts to hold them to even higher operational and regulatory standards. The Biden administration, as well as many state governments, are pushing reforms that will make it much more challenging to operate a compliant and financially viable facility, including minimum staffing levels, increased health and safety surveys, more significant financial penalties, and greater scrutiny of ownership, finances and related party arrangements. In addition, the government is bringing civil False Claims Act cases, and in some cases filing criminal health care fraud charges, against facilities that provide substandard care. Some states are also seeking to impose monitors and enjoin nursing home operations at underperforming facilities.Continue Reading Nursing Homes Brace for Reforms and Heightened Government Scrutiny

On October 21, 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced changes to its Special Focus Facility (SFF) program, including new steps to address nursing home facilities that fail to graduate from the SFF program in a timely manner, or “yo-yo” back into non-compliance after graduating from the SFF program. These changes are consistent with the Federal government’s goal of improving safety and quality of care for the nation’s roughly 1.5 million nursing home residents.Continue Reading Long Term Care Update: CMS Revises Criteria for its Special Focus Facility Initiative

On September 21, 2022, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis held public hearings and issued a report assessing the performance of large, for-profit nursing home chains during the early phase of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Subcommittee’s ongoing investigation began in June 2020, and focused on five for-profit nursing home chains that collectively operated over 850 skilled nursing facilities, each of which had significant outbreaks across their facilities. The Subcommittee’s key findings paint an extremely negative picture of for-profit facilities, and include the following allegations:Continue Reading U.S. Congressional Committee Takes Aim at For-Profit Nursing Homes

In response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (the “PHE”), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) issued numerous “blanket waivers” to increase access to medical services, and ease the regulatory burden on providers across the health care industry. In order to help providers understand the current status of the various waivers – some of which have been codified into law or adopted through the regulatory process, and others of which have already been terminated – CMS has issued a “Road Map” through a series of Fact Sheets for different provider types.Continue Reading CMS Issues a “Roadmap” for the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and Blanket Waivers

The Biden Administration has expressed a deep concern about nursing home owners and related parties excessively profiting off of the residents they serve to the detriment of quality care. To address this concern, President Biden has asked Congress to implement laws that will empower federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to increase accountability for facility ownership and expand enforcement authority at the ownership level. In addition, the federal agencies that regulate and oversee nursing homes (and some states[1]) have or plan to take action to ensure more transparency, compliance and enforcement regarding nursing facility ownership. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced last week that it will undertake an audit of skilled nursing facility Medicare payments to related parties. Facility owners and operators should heed these developments, which as discussed below, focus on several fronts, and ensure that their relationships and operations are in accord with existing federal and state related party laws and regulations.Continue Reading Nursing Homes Beware: the Government has Increased Its Scrutiny of Related Parties