Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Litigants Unable to Access Nursing Home Inspectors

"The Bush administration shut off a source of information last fall about abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities that people suing nursing homes consider crucial to their cases." Under the rule, "state inspectors and Medicare and Medicaid contractors" were designated as "federal employees, a group usually shielded from providing evidence for either side in private litigation." The regulation "generally prohibits state health departments and contractors from participating in private lawsuits involving facilities that are in the federal assistance program without approval by the head of the Department of Health and Human Services." As a result, litigants must "go to greater lengths, including seeking court orders, to get inspection reports," and such requests "now are stalled between state and federal offices." According to the Bush administration, "the rule was...necessary to accommodate the hiring of new contractors to make Medicare payments to providers, perform audit and fraud reviews." Read more.

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