The Department of Justice announced plans Wednesday to create 10 regional task forces that will target nursing homes that provide “grossly substandard” care.
The task forces, launched as part of the DOJ’s Elder Justice Initiative, will include members from U.S. Attorney’s offices, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, state and local prosecutors’ offices, the Department of Health and Human Services, state Adult Protective Services agencies, long-term care ombudsman programs and law enforcement.
The groups will “bring everyone to the table” to share information and concerns about under-performing or fraudulent nursing homes, and resolve them in a “coordinated and timely manner,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. DOJ authorities did not indicate when the task forces would be up and running.
Citing recent data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that shows a decrease in nursing home deficiencies, American Health Care Association President and CEO Mark Parkinson said the task forces paint the wrong picture of the long-term care industry.
“We support any effort to improve overall care and weed out bad actors, but today’s announcement mistakenly conveys that quality is on the decline,” Parkinson said in a statement. “It is a smokescreen aimed at finding cost cutting measures that would threaten life-improving post-acute and long term care services for millions of seniors.”
Parkinson said the creation of the task force points a finger at “a flawed Medicare payment system,” and that AHCA supports payment reforms that would enhance service while saving federal dollars.
Task forces will be launched in the Northern District of California, Northern District of Georgia, District of Kansas, Western District of Kentucky, Northern District of Iowa, District of Maryland, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Washington, according to the DOJ.
“All too often we have found nursing home owners or operators who put their own economic gain before the needs of their residents,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery in Wednesday’s announcement. “These task forces will help ensure that we are working closely with all relevant parties to protect the elderly.”