As of March 23, 2011, the Affordable Care Act requires administrators of long-term care facilities to notify residents in writing at least 60 days prior to a skilled nursing facility’s closure. Nursing home administrators are also required to provide written notification to the Department of Health and Human Services and to the state’s long-term care ombudsman. This is a change to the current 30-day requirement.
Failure to comply with these new requirements can result in serious civil financial penalties up to $100,000. Administrators may also face disciplinary action, including denied future participation in any federal health care program.
Notification must contain a state-approved relocation plan as well as assurances that residents will be transferred to another appropriate facility based on their individual needs and circumstances.
Anthony Cirillo, About.com’s guide to assisted living, notes that these requirements apply only to nursing homes–not to assisted living facilities. However, some states, such as New Jersey, are moving in that direction by requiring assisted living facilities to set up escrow accounts to protect residents in case of a sudden facility closure. Currently, many assisted living residents learn a facility is closing only when the sheriff comes knocking at the door, and these residents are left with no assistance and no back-up plan.
New regulations are also being considered that would prevent senior living communities–specifically, assisted living homes–from evicting Medicaid-eligible residents once they’ve exhausted their personal finances. Private pay rates are higher than Medicaid daily payment rates, so a higher ratio of private pay residents can have a significant impact on a facility’s bottom line. While not a common practice, consumers should be prepared with a back-up plan to protect loved ones in the event of a sudden eviction or facility closure until federal regulations are enacted to protect consumers.
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