Nov 21 2011

Nursing Home Bill Signed by Governor

On  Wednesday, November 16th, Governor Walker signed SB 212 into law.  2011 Act 70 makes several significant changes to chapter 50 of the Wisconsin Statutes--the statute which sets forth regulations for nursing homes. 

Summary of 2011 Act 70

Prior to this Act, if a nursing home receives Medicare or Medicaid funding, it is subject to both state and federal requirements.  The Act limits the ability of the Department of Health Services (DHS) to subject nursing homes to penalties for violating both state and federal regulations.  The Act prohibits DHS from issuing a notice of a state violation if DHS has cited the home for a violation of federal law, based on the same facts.

The Act allows DHS to seek an injunction to enjoin the nursing home from repeated violations of certain federal requirements.  And, the Act creates a 120-day time limit for DHS to impose a forfeiture for a violation.

The Act extends to 60 days the time period by which a nursing home must pay forfeitures to DHS, and also changes from 10 to 60 days the time period within which a nursing home may pay a forfeiture to have the forfeiture amounts reduced by 35 percent.

The Act extends the deadline for a nursing home to request a hearing on a finding that the nursing home violated a state requirement to 60 days and also extends the deadline for requesting a hearing on a forfeiture to 60 days after notice.  The Act further provides that if the nursing home timely appeals both a finding of violation and a forfeiture, the hearings on the violation and the forfeiture will be consolidated.

The Act expands the standard for DHS issuance of a conditional license for a nursing home to include a continuing violation of federal law that constitutes immediate jeopardy or actual harm not involving immediate jeopardy to a nursing home resident.  

The Act expands the standard for suspension of new admissions to a nursing home to include circumstances under which a nursing home received written notice of a violation that involved immediate jeopardy to a resident; a class A violation; or three or more class B violations or violations that constituted actual harm not involving immediate jeopardy to a resident.  These circumstances must have occurred both in the previous 15 months and in any 15-month period during the 36 months immediately preceding the previous 15 months. Under the Act, a suspension of admissions may begin only 90 days after a nursing home receives its last notice of a violation if DHS determines that the violation in uncorrected 90 days after the last notice. Suspension of admissions must remain in effect until DHS determines that the nursing home has corrected the violation in question.

This Act permits DHS to suspend or revoke a nursing home license if the nursing home has substantially failed to comply with specified state law or with federal requirements related to the operation of a nursing home.

The Act specifies that a nursing home operating under a probationary license must substantially comply with requirements under certain federal regulations related to the operation of a nursing home, if applicable, in order to obtain a regular license.

The Act allows DHS to distribute moneys, including civil money penalties, for innovative projects designed to protect the property and the health, safety, and welfare of nursing home residents and to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the operation of nursing home facilities.  Under the Act, DHS must establish and maintain a quality assurance and improvement committee to review proposals and award moneys for such projects.

 The Act is scheduled to be published on December 1, 2011.  The effective date is the day following publication.