Senate approves regulatory reform of nursing home facilities across Michigan

LANSING — Skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities across the state would operate in a fairer and consistent regulatory environment under a measure approved Thursday by the Michigan Senate, said bill sponsor Sen. Goeff Hansen.

“The central theme of this reform legislation, Senate Bill 884, is ensuring the health, safety and welfare of our most vulnerable citizens, who reside in nursing facilities,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “My measure speaks directly to Governor Snyder’s call for regulatory reform and reinventing Michigan. Our most vulnerable Michigan residents deserve a state government that is focused on being more consumer- and customer-friendly and accountable to the people they serve.”

According to Hansen, performance of the Bureau of Health Systems (which regulates nursing facilities) in Michigan has consistently been an anomaly, as compared with other states across the nation.

Hansen’s measure would help improve the current survey/enforcement process; provide an opportunity to reduce unnecessary, duplicative and inefficient processes, which will save the State Survey Agency time, staff and monetary resources; and protect the safety and care of nursing home residents.

SB 884 would require greater collaboration on joint provider and surveyor training sessions; require the nursing home survey process to be effectively and efficiently coordinated by developing and implementing an electronic system to support coordination of these activities; and create more efficiency in the survey scheduling process while maintaining all federal survey interval requirements.

The State Survey Agency has a history of imposing civil monetary penalties against more skilled nursing facilities and at a rate four to 290 times higher than other states in the same region. In fiscal year 2011, Michigan imposed more than $9.2 million in civil monetary penalties alone. Meanwhile, Ohio ranked second with $2.2 million, despite having 300 more nursing facilities than Michigan.

SB 884 would maintain a robust regulatory oversight and enforcement process while holding the Bureau of Health Systems accountable for process improvements. The goal is to promote fairness, accuracy and timeliness in the process. The inconsistent application of the process currently causes unnecessarily long survey and enforcement periods, which have serious consequences for a facility’s community reputation and financial stability.

“My focus was to hold the State Survey Agency to a higher standard, and Senate Bill 884 builds a solid foundation toward codifying these important reforms on behalf of Michigan’s senior citizens,” Hansen said.