January 17,2006

Grassley Urges CMS to Step Up Nursing Home Oversight


To: Reporters and Editors
Re: GAO report on nursing home quality of care
Da: Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2006

Sen. Chuck Grassley today made the following comment on a new report from the
Government Accountability Office, “Nursing Homes/Despite Increased Oversight, Challenges
Remain in Ensuring High-Quality Care and Resident Safety,” GAO-06-117. Grassley is chairman
of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid, former chairman of the
Senate Special Committee on Aging, and a long-time advocate for improved nursing home quality
of care.

“It bothers me that CMS says nursing home initiatives compete with other priorities. The
minute we look away, we lose momentum, and conditions backslide. We can’t let that happen again
like it did before. That’s not to denigrate the good progress made. But we need faster, sustained
progress. A lack of oversight by CMS years ago is what led to the steady decline in nursing home
quality. Inspectors were often too cozy with the nursing home staff, inspections were too predictable,
people weren’t finding problems or were afraid to report them, and when there were problems
identified, punishments were a slap on the wrist. If state surveyors are missing serious deficiencies
in the quality of care, then CMS has not yet achieved the necessary level of improvement in its
oversight of that process, period. So CMS needs to make high-quality care for nursing home
residents a consistent, high priority and get the job done once and for all. I’ll keep after CMS to make
sure the job gets done.”

The report will be available today at finance.senate.gov.