NCLEJ Submits Comment Opposing Rule to Relax Nursing Home Regulations as COVID Rages

Yesterday, NCLEJ submitted a comment opposing a proposed rule by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) that would alter the agency’s Preadmission and Resident Review (PASRR) program and make it easier for people to be sent to nursing homes and more difficult for them to return to the community.

As COVID-19 claims lives across the nation, with at least 20 percent of those lives being people in nursing facilities, NCLEJ opposes relaxing regulations governing entry into congregate settings, such as nursing homes, during a time when our nation’s health and wellbeing literally depends on our ability to maintain social distance. 

The rule would also disproportionately impact low-income populations that are less likely to have options with respect to their long-term care as well as people with intellectual, developmental, and mental disabilities being admitted into nursing facilities. Nursing homes that serve significant numbers of Black and Latinx residents have been twice as likely to be affected by the coronavirus. 

More than 20 years ago, the Supreme Court in Olmstead v. L.C. by Zimring, 527 U.S. 581, 597 (1999), held that “unjustified isolation” constitutes “discrimination based on disability.” Under the proposed rule, more people with disabilities are likely to be admitted into nursing homes and fewer people are likely to be provided specialized services or to ultimately be discharged. 

The proposed rule does not reflect the purpose of the PASRR program and contradicts not only the requirements of the ADA and guidance published by CMS related to these laws, but also contemporary professional mental health and intellectual and developmental disability standards that favor community-based services as a better option.

You can read our comment letter here.