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July 21, 1998

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Moving a parent to a nursing home is one of life's most difficult decisions. But with these steps, we are giving families the security of knowing that we are doing everything we can to make our nation's nursing homes safe and secure.

President Bill Clinton
July 21, 1998

Today, President Clinton announces tough new legislative and administrative actions to improve the quality of nursing homes and crack down on nursing homes that do not follow the rules. These actions include:ensuring swift and strong penalties for nursing homes failing to comply with standards, strengthening oversight of state enforcement mechanisms, developing a national registry to track and identify individuals with a record of abusing residents, and implementing unprecedented efforts to improve nutrition and prevent bed sores.

The Need To Ensure Quality Care In Nursing Homes. There are approximately 1.6 million older Americans and people with disabilities that receive care in roughly 16,700 nursing homes nationwide. Problems like the inappropriate use of physical restraints and a shortage of hearing aids for those in need were reduced by the enactment of new regulations by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) in 1995. However, HCFA's ongoing review of nursing home care, and a report being sent to Congress today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), shows that tougher enforcement is needed to ensure high quality care in all nursing homes.

A Presidential Plan To Improve Nursing Home Care. This week, the President is sending Congress tough new legislation that calls for:

  • Nursing Homes To Conduct Criminal Background Checks On All Potential Employees;
  • The Establishment Of A National Abuse Registry To Keep Track Of Those Convicted Of Abusing Residents;
  • Improving Nutrition and Hydration Therapy By Allowing More Categories Of Nursing Home Employees To Perform These Functions
  • Reauthorization Of The Nursing Home Ombudsman Program Run By The Administration On Aging.

New Administrative Actions To Improve The Quality Of Nursing Homes. Today, the President is also announcing the implementation of new penalties, inspections, and tougher oversight of nursing homes by the HCFA, including:

  • Immediate Civil Monetary Penalties Against Nursing Homes That Violate Federal Standards;
  • Tougher Nursing Home Inspections, including: (1) Staggered survey times to prevent inadequate nursing homes from preparing for inspections; (2) Targeting nursing home chains with bad records; (3) Cooperative efforts with the HHS Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Justice to refer severe violations of quality care standards for criminal investigation and prosecution where appropriate;
  • Stronger Federal Enforcement Of State Nursing Home Oversight and tougher actions against those states that are failing to enforce standards. The HCFA will: (1) Terminate federal nursing home inspection funding to states with consistently poor records; (2) Increase oversight of state inspections; (3) Ensure that nursing homes are in compliance with standards before lifting sanctions;
  • Publishing Nursing Home Survey Results On The Internet;
  • Preventing Bed Sores, Dehydration, and Malnutrition by requiring state surveyors to monitor actions taken by nursing homes to prevent these ailments;
  • Implementing New Efforts To Measure And Monitor Nursing Home Quality. This month, the HCFA began collecting information on resident care through a national automated data system that will be analyzed to identify potential areas of inadequate care in nursing homes and to assess performance in critical areas.

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