Federal Nursing Home Reform Act

Congress enacted the Nursing Home Reform Act in 1987 in response to a study conducted by the Institute for Medicine, which established that nursing home abuses were rampant at the time. This law governing nursing home conduct requires that residents be able to obtain certain services, and sets forth a so-called Residents’ Bill of Rights.

To enforce the NHRA, Congress tied facility funding for Medicaid and Medicare payments with adherence to the newly established standards. States are responsible for inspecting nursing homes and providing certification for those facilities in compliance.

While the NHRA afforded much-needed oversight of nursing homes that receive federal funding, abuses do still occur. Skilled nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers could work with families who believe their loved one’s nursing home facility is not adhering to required standards.

Federal Nursing Home Reform Act Residents’ Bill of Rights

The NHRA spelled out certain rights that nursing home residents are entitled to, including the right to:

  • Be free from abuse, neglect, and mistreatment
  • To not be subject to physical restraints
  • Have privacy, dignity and unrestricted communication
  • Have their medical, physical, psychological, and social needs met
  • Participate in groups and programs for resident and families
  • Exercise self-determination about their care, including reviewing their own care plan and be notified in advance of significant changes to their care, treatment, or living arrangements
  • Voice grievances without retaliation from the facility or staff

Federal Nursing Home Reform Act Established Required Resident Services

In addition to the residents’ Bill of Rights, the NHRA also establishes services that nursing home facilities are required to provide and sets forth the standards these services must achieve. Under federal law, nursing homes must provide residents with comprehensive care plans and nursing care, periodic assessments, access to social services, rehabilitation, pharmaceutical, and dietary services.

Nursing homes must provide these services, regardless of the size of the facility or how many residents it serves. However, facilities with an excess of 120 beds are also required to provide access to a full-time social worker – even if those beds are unoccupied.

NHRA Enforcement and Certification

States are responsible for making sure the NHRA standards are enforced, through continuous monitoring and certification of nursing home facilities. To do this, state agencies must conduct periodic surveys and interviews of nursing home residents, at least every 15 months, but at unannounced, irregular intervals. They should also respond to nursing home abuse and neglect complaints by conducting additional surveys and investigations.

When nursing homes are found to be in violation of the established standards for quality of care, states can respond with a variety of remedies, depending on the seriousness of the violation, the safety and wellbeing of the resident involved, and whether the problem is an isolated incident or a more widespread pattern.

Facilities in noncompliance may be subject to continuous monitoring, mandatory training, a plan of correction of the violations, civil fines and penalties, denial of new – or all – Medicare and Medicaid payments, temporary takeover by state management, and termination of certification and provider agreements.

Call a Maryland Attorney About the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act

Families who have questions or concerns about whether their loved one is receiving quality care as required by the federal Nursing Home Reform Act can work with a compassionate nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to determine whether the facility is in compliance with federal and state standards. Call today and set up a consultation.