The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a News Alert on June 11, 2020 regarding nursing home residents’ rights to retain their Federal Economic Incentive Payments (aka “Stimulus Checks). CMS notes that there have been allegations that nursing homes have been seizing their residents’ stimulus checks and although the Agency has not received any specific complaints about this practice, that if a facility is doing this, it could result in enforcement actions.
June 11, 2020
Nursing Home Residents’ Right to retain Federal Economic Incentive Payments
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is aware of allegations that some nursing homes are seizing residents economic impact payments (or “Stimulus Checks”) authorized under the CARES Act. This practice is prohibited, and nursing homes that seize these payments from residents could be subject to federal enforcement actions, including potential termination from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
While CMS has not received any specific complaints regarding this practice, we believe it is important for residents and families to know their rights, and for nursing homes to understand the liability associated with this practice.
Seizing residents’ stimulus checks could be a violation of federal regulations at 42 CFR §483.12, Freedom from Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation. Specifically, this could be considered misappropriation of resident property, which is defined as “the deliberate misplacement, exploitation, or wrongful, temporary, or permanent use of a resident’s belongings or money without the resident’s consent.” Further, nursing homes requiring residents to deposit their stimulus check with the nursing home could be in violation of 42 CFR §483.10 which gives residents have “the right to manage his or her financial affairs.” Further, “The facility must not require residents to deposit their personal funds with the facility. If a resident chooses to deposit personal funds with the facility, upon written authorization of a resident, the facility must act as a fiduciary of the resident’s funds and hold, safeguard, manage, and account for the personal funds of the resident deposited with the facility, as specified in this section.”
Residents or their family who were compelled to sign their stimulus check over to their nursing home, are encouraged to file a complaint with their state survey agency for investigation of the nursing home. State specific complaint contact information is available here: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/SurveyCertificationGenInfo/Downloads/Complaintcontacts.pdf
CMS and State investigators will make referrals to the States Attorneys General, as appropriate, if they find a nursing home in violation of these requirements.
Residents and families are also encouraged to contact their State Attorney General, directly, for redress of their individual loss. State Attorneys General contacts are available here: https://protect2.fireeye.com/url?k=c95c1830-950911e0-c95c290f-0cc47a6a52de-4c6b303bff891263&u=https://www.naag.org/naag/attorneys-general/whos-my-ag.php
The regulation mentioned in the CMS news alert is F600. You can view CMS Compliance Group’s “Ftag of the Week” F600 4-part Blog Series on this regulation for a reminder on what is included in the regulations.