For nursing homes operating anywhere in the US, March 23, 2013 isn't just another date on the calendar. It’s the deadline for compliance with some important requirements imposed by The Affordable Care Act (the ACA, also known as “Obama Care”). By that date, nursing care facilities accepting Medicare or Medicaid must adopt written programs and procedures designed to accomplish two broad goals:
The new written programs and procedures can help you evaluate or choose a nursing facility for yourself or a loved one. As discussed in my blog post on selecting the right care facility, it’s good to have a plan of action, especially if you have a deadline for choosing a nursing home.
At your first meeting with a facility’s administrator, ask for a copy of their new Compliance and Ethics Program. The document you receive will tell you a great deal about that particular care center. The law requires that any adopted program meet certain criteria, and you’ll want to know whether the home you’re considering measures up to the legal requirements.
Here’s what to look for:
Physical and Emotional Safety – The physical safety and mental well being of residents should top the list of concerns for any responsible nursing facility, and the Compliance and Ethics Program required by the ACA should reflect that fact. The program should:
Of course, it’s the implementation (not the adoption) of the Compliance and Ethics Program that really counts; and that can only happen over time. What are the chances that the facility you’re evaluating will actually carry out the program in the months and years to come? Here are some tips to help you predict the future:
In the end, keep in mind that nursing home residents receive better, safer care when facility administrators are aware that someone who cares is watching. The new ACA provisions provide an opportunity for residents and their families to send a positive message. Let your facility know that you are informed about the ACA’s new provisions related to resident safety and well being and that you expect full compliance with those provisions.
James W. Slater is the managing partner of Ohio-based law firm Slater & Zurz. The firm, which handles personal injury and family law cases, has represented more than 20,000 clients during its 40-plus years in practice.
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