The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) added additional nursing home-related items to its May Work Plan. Not surprisingly, both reports will focus on infection control.
The first report, “Audit of Nursing Home Infection Prevention and Control Program Deficiencies,” is expected to be issued this fiscal year. The Work Plan notes that as of February 2020, approximately 43% of nursing homes had been cited for an infection prevention and control deficiencies and some may not have had a plan of correction in place for the citations. The OIG will determine whether nursing homes included in the review have both infection prevention and control and emergency preparedness programs in place that are compliant with federal regulations.
The second report, also expected to be issued this fiscal year, “Nursing Home Oversight During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” will use “recent” survey data and complaint data for all nursing homes to identify the extent to which State Survey Agencies (SAs) and CMS have been conducting onsite surveys as directed per CMS recent survey prioritization guidance. This Work Plan item appeared on the heels of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued May 20, 2020. That report found that infection control deficiencies were widespread in nursing homes before the COVID-19 pandemic, but also questions how surveyors could find so many deficient practices yet not cite them at more severe scope/severity or utilize enforcement remedies more frequently. GAO plans to issued a follow-up report on the CMS response to COVID-19, and plans to put out another report on CMS guidance and oversight of infection prevention and control.
It looks like CMS and the State Agencies will be having increased oversight of their oversight activities, and in turn, this will probably lead to additional oversight for nursing home providers, including as nursing homes think about reopening and survey priorities change as communities move through the phases.