Involuntary Discharges and Transfers to Face Scrutiny
Corey J. Ohalek
Associate General Counsel
Vrable Healthcare, Inc.
Recently, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced it would increase federal oversight regarding involuntary discharges and transfers issued by SNF’s. Specifically, the OIG will be focusing on “whether State agencies have effectively investigated and enforced proper transfer and discharge procedures.” The OIG noted that “discharge/eviction was the most common complaint to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.” Also, the OIG indicated that, due to the quantity, it is worth investigating involuntary discharges and transfers. CMS has estimated that “as many as one-third of all residents in long-term care facilities are involuntarily discharged.”
One of the main areas of review for the OIG is the “lax or ineffective State enforcement.” The OIG plans to review how the State LTC Ombudsman address involuntary transfers and discharges and “the extent to which State survey agencies investigated and took enforcement actions against nursing homes for inappropriate involuntary transfers and discharges.” The State LTC Ombudsman is not the only entity that the OIG is focused on in its review and it will also review the” extent to which nursing homes meet CMS requirements for involuntary transfers and discharges.”
Although the OIG’s main focus will be the actions and/or inactions of State agencies, the OIG’s actions should place all SNF’s on notice to review and adhere to the state and federal regulations regarding involuntary transfers and discharges. “State ombudsman and enforcement agencies may strengthen their involuntary discharge and transfer enforcement activities to ensure that they are not perceived as being lax or ineffective.”