Following incidents at several health care facilities during recent natural disasters, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today questioned the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services about its new nursing home emergency preparedness requirements.
Hatch and Wyden also requested responses from state agencies in Florida and Texas regarding their preparations and responses to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
“As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, we have a responsibility to ensure that [nursing homes] are habitable for all residents, including the many Medicare and Medicaid patients served by these facilities,” the Senators wrote in a letter to CMS. “Since publication of the [Emergency Preparedness]Final Rule, fourteen residents of the Rehabilitation Center of Hollywood Hills….have died because the facility’s air conditioning system lost power during Hurricane Irma. Similar reports after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma raise concerns about the adequacy of emergency preparedness and response at nursing homes and other facilities. Our Committee would like information about the Federal requirements that were applicable during these events and the actions CMS has taken since.”
The full letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma can be found here.
The full letter to Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Charles Smith can be found here.
The full letter to Florida Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Justin Senior can be found here.
In November 2016, CMS finalized new national emergency preparedness requirements – the EP Rule – for Medicare- and Medicaid-participating providers and suppliers. This rule followed recommendations in two reports by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (OIG) that detailed significant problems in nursing home emergency preparedness and response during Hurricane Katrina and several other disasters. EP Rule requirements must be implemented byNov. 15, 2017.
The EP Rule requires long-term care facilities to develop emergency preparedness plans to ensure that staff’s and residents’ basic needs are met in the event of natural or man-made disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires, and flooding. The rule explicitly requires facilities to have policies and procedures in place to address alternate sources of energy to maintain temperatures during these emergencies.