CMS Issues Rule to Improve Long-Term Care Facilities

The new rule provides safeguards and protections for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently created a rule to improve the care and safety of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries living in long-term care facilities.

This rule will affect approximately 1.5 million beneficiaries in more than 15,000 facilities, according to a press release from CMS. Reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions, reducing infections, improving care, and creating stricter safety measures for beneficiaries is the goal of this new rule.

These changes demonstrate the agency’s commitment to improving our healthcare system by delivering better care and spending healthcare money in a smart way, according to CMS. The update of the rules is the first since 1991, and will provide best practices for resident care, implement safeguards, and include protections from the Affordable Care Act, CMS wrote.

Approximately 10,000 public comments were received and considered before finalizing the rule. The finalized rule will strengthen the rights of the beneficiaries, and make sure that staff members are highly trained to manage patients with conditions such as dementia.

This high level of training will prevent injuries and elder abuse. Long-term care facilities must now take into consideration the health of beneficiaries when deciding the types of staff they employ.

The staff they choose to hire must have the proper skill sets to provide patient-centered care, and be able to develop care plans that include the beneficiaries’ goals and preferences, according to CMS. Care planning will be improved over the rule, including more extensive discharge planning, providing the beneficiaries’ information for follow-up, and making sure instructions are provided to receiving facilities.

Dieticians and therapy providers will not be able to create orders for beneficiaries in their area of expertise if the physician and the state’s law allows it. The Infection prevention and control program will also be updated under the law, and will now require infection control officers and antibiotic stewardship programs to prevent unintended hospitalizations and poor outcomes.

“The health and safety of residents of long-term care facilities are our top priorities,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. “The advances we are announcing today will give residents and families greater assurances of the care they receive.”