Federal Nursing Home Law

The earliest federal legislation dealing with nursing home regulation came in 1965, when Medicare and Medicaid were introduced. Nursing homes that were chosen to receive this government funding had to abide by government regulations laid out the Department of Health and Human Services. Although efforts were made in the late 1960’s, the need for universal government regulation of nursing home care was not really addressed until the 1980’s, a decade in which America was made aware of how widespread nursing home abuse and neglect had become. In 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act was passed as apart of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA). OBRA, for the first time, had made the responsibility of nursing home care a matter of federal legislation. The Nursing Home Reform Act created a federally standardized bill of rights for nursing home residents, and created laws to protect and honor those rights. The Nursing Home Reform Act also provides different consequence and solution methods to problems and violations that are discovered.

The Nursing Home Reform Act

The Nursing Home Reform Act established standards that nursing homes had to meet when providing service and care for their residents.

These federal standards require:

The Nursing Home Resident's Bill of Rights

The Nursing Home Reform Act established the following rights for nursing home residents:

Federal Surveys and Sanctions

To ensure that these standards are being put into effect, the federal government reserves the right to conduct unannounced surveying of nursing home facilities. This allows the government to monitor nursing homes and make sure that the rights of the patients are being respected. These surveys can include a range of in depth probing into the facility, such as interviewing residents. These surveys are usually just broad examinations of the quality of care provided in the nursing home and whether or not the rights of each resident are being respected. However, if the survey uncovers a violation of rights, then the Nursing Home Reform Act then requires enforcement procedures. During this enforcement process the government decides, based on the severity of the violation, how to best remedy the situation. In response to some lesser violations, the federal government might only require the facility to assess and correct the problem. But, if a violation is found that directly infringes upon a resident’s rights or safety, then the government is required to impose corrective and punitive sanctions.

The following is a list of possible corrective and punitive sanctions approved by the Nursing Home Reform Act:

The Nursing Home Reform Act, enacted in 1987 was the U.S. government’s response to the disturbing nation-wide revelations of nursing home abuse and neglect. After decades of inaction, the federal government created a law that dealt with standardizing the quality in America’s nursing homes. The federal government established standards for all federally funded nursing home facilities to abide by, therefore making a violation of these standards a violation of federal law. The Nursing Home Reform Act states clear and nationally standardized rights that all nursing home residents are to be granted. The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act makes the health and well-being of nursing home residents a matter of federal law.