The Chamber presented on Thursday a bipartisan bill it would require nursing homes to report the references and backgrounds of their medical directors to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
To improve transparency, the Nursing Home Disclosure Act, HR8832 would also require CMS to publish medical directors’ information on the Care Compare online tool.
According to its sponsors, Reps. Mike Levin (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PENNSYLVANIA).
“It is unacceptable that some nursing homes do not provide full public accounts of the identity of their medical director,” Rep. Levin said. “Our bipartisan bill will rectify that and demand the transparency families need to have confidence in their retirement homes.”
Federal law requires Medicare-supported facilities to have a physician as their medical director and to oversee clinical care quality, policy, and personnel. Nursing homes are required to report all management-level employees, but there is significant under-reporting, according to AMDA-The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.
Only 30% of nursing homes reported working hours for their medical directors in the first quarter of 2019, for example.
Moreover, there has never been a public list of these professionals. Some institutions publicize the medical director’s information, and others do not, industry observers said.
The position does not get the visibility it deserves for solving clinical problems or for availability and consumer awareness, said Christopher Laxton, CAE, executive director of AMDA, during a press briefing Thursday. “We thought it was an important first step [to have] a national register.
Quality of care
Medical directors perform a variety of roles depending on the services provided by a nursing facility. Some are employed by nursing homes and others are contractors. Many serve two or more facilities, but without centralized data, it’s difficult to track those data points or signs of quality of care, Laxton and colleagues said.
“We’ve heard from consumers that they want access to good care. They want to be able to have qualified and trained providers,” said Milta O. Little, DO, AMDA president-elect, who served as medical director for long-term care. “They want continuous and comprehensive primary care. As a healthcare system, we have to make that accessible, and we’re in a place where society will expect that of us,” she said.
Additionally, without a registry of these providers, there is no direct way to channel and share clinical advice to all nursing homes through their medical directors – a lost opportunity put in evidence during the pandemic, Laxton said.
“The COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted the impact of the medical director on a nursing home’s rapid response to new scientific guidance and the implementation of effective resident care policies,” added Suzanne Gillespie, MD, AMDA President. “Public identification of nursing home medical directors is a logical and important step to ensure quality of care in American nursing homes.”
AMDA is working to sign more sponsors to help push the bill into the Omnibus Reconciliation Act, which is the next step toward passage.
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