New long-term care rules should be applied gradually

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The last time the Medicaid and Medicare programs did a comprehensive update of their requirements for long-term care was 1991.

So, the proposed revisions that were issued for public comment are causing quite a stir with the nursing home industry and those that regulate it.

At first blush, many of the proposed changes sound reasonable and needed – better assessments of a patient’s mental and physical health, more stringent infection control, improved training for staff and closer watch on medication, food and nutrition. Most of us would want those higher standards for the care of our loved ones.

 But in the pages and pages of regulations, there also are recommended changes in administrative, financial and reporting areas, too. Those might seem to be “behind the scenes” for the public, but they can factor heavily into the quality of care.

The changes would certainly come with a cost. One estimate was about $700 million for the industry and about $45,000 per facility in the first year…

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