Senators Disclose Secret List of 400 Nursing Home that are Special Focus Facility Candidates

In order to better inform the public of the identity of poorly performing nursing homes, Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey made public for the first time a list of nursing homes that are candidates for inclusion in the federal Special Focus Facilities program, which program subjects participating facilities to increased inspections, escalating penalties, and possible removal from Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Nursing home safety remains a big concern to many of us, especially those of us with elderly parents or other loved ones who are in long-term care facilities.  The US Congress is also concerned with nursing home safety, and two senators recently released a report listing approximately 400 underperforming nursing homes. These homes have consistently failed to provide care as set forth in standards or regulations.

In 1987, Congress established The Nursing Home Act, which, in part, established compliance requirements for nursing homes receiving Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.   The government wanted to be assured a basic level of care and so they established comprehensive regulations covering all aspects of care in nursing homes. Since many nursing home residents receive such benefits, most nursing homes rely heavily on such reimbursements in order to operate, so they agree to follow these regulations.  Nursing homes are inspected both annually, and when a complaint of neglect is received to ensure they are rendering care in compliance with the regulations.

In connection with this Act, and to better ensure nursing home safety, additional important programs were created.  One of such programs was a comprehensive inspection, ratings, and citations program, which is coordinated with a state facility inspections.  This program uses standardized processes and procedures for inspection and reporting protocols, so that facilities nationwide can be compared on a uniform basis. Other initiatives include the creation of the Medicare Nursing Home Compare website, and the star and standardized comparisons of nursing homes nationwide on such website.

The Special Focus Facilities Program

As part of the health and safety initiatives focused on identifying nursing homes that consistently underperform and as such have a large number of citations (or incidents of not complying with the required regulations) in required inspections, and to encourage such facilities to perform better through penalties and other measures, the Special Focus Facility (“SFF”) program was created as oversight for those facilities placed into such program (“SFF’s).  Nursing homes that are designated SFF are poor performing. Nursing homes placed into this program are subject to increasing inspections (at least one inspection is required every six months), escalating fines and penalties, and the possibility of closure and potentially the loss of reimbursement for resident care from Medicare and Medicaid.  This program is to focus attention on the facility to hopefully encourage it to make those necessary changes and improve patient care.

SFF participants represent less than .6% out of over 15,700 nursing homes nationwide.  Currently, participation in the program is limited to a maximum of 88 facilities due to budget constraints (about 80 facilities are currently included in the program).  The specific participants in the program change periodically.

SFF Candidates

In addition to those facilities in the SFF program, an additional 2.5% of all facilities (about 400 nursing homes), have also been identified as “SFF Candidates” because they have had a “persistent record of poor care.”  Some SFF Candidates currently may meet the criteria of the SFF program; however, apparently due to limited funding, such facilities have not been placed into the SFF program.

While the list of facilities included in the SFF program historically has been made public (these facilities can be seen on the Medicare Nursing Home Compare website), the SFF Candidate facilities (which are designated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or “CMS”) have been kept secret by the CMS. As a result, the public had no way of knowing whether a facility that they may be contemplating for their loved one was considered by the CMS to have serious issues, and in danger of being placed into the SFF program. Pretty scary that there was a secret list, but no more!

The Request for Disclosure of the Names of the SFF Candidates

It is certainly refreshing to see Congress taking action to protect our families. Believing that it is in the public’s best interest to know the names of the SFF Candidates, US Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey (both from Pennsylvania) made a request to the CMS on April 4, 2019, for the names of all SFF Candidates.  On May 14, 2019, the agency provided a list to the senators which included both current SFF’s and SFF Candidates as of April, 2019.

In early June, 2019, Senators Casey and Toomey published a report entitled Families’ and Residents’ Right to Know: Uncovering Poor Care in America’s Nursing Homes, which discusses poorly performing nursing homes in the US, and which contains a full list of all SFF participants and SFF Candidates as of April, 2019.  This report was the first time that the names of SFF Candidates were made public.

The List of Ohio SFF and SFF Candidate Nursing Homes (as of April, 2019)

The list of Ohio facilities listed in the Casey and Toomey report that in the SFF program, and those that are SFF Candidates, are as follows:

SFF Candidates

In SFF Program

We applaud the effort of these senators, and look forward to the ongoing disclosure of the poorly performing facilities included in the SFF program and SFF Candidates, which present a public safety risk to our families, on an ongoing basis.  It is critical that the public continue to be informed of these poorly-performing facilities.  We also look forward to continued improvements in all nursing home facilities in order to better protect the care, welfare, and dignity of residents.

If a family member has been neglected in one of these listed facilities, or if you feel the care they received in another facility was negligent, please call me for your free consultation.


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