GAO Report: Improved Oversight Needed to Better Protect Residents from Abuse

July 25, 2019
Health Policy

Last week representatives from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified publicly to the Senate Special Committee on Aging about their Improved Oversight Needed to Better Protect Residents from Abuse report. The report noted that “while abuse in nursing homes is often underreported, we found that abuse citations more than doubled from 2013-2017. We also found that gaps in CMS’s [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] oversight make it harder to protect residents. Oversight is critical in addressing and preventing abuse.”

The report made several recommendations to CMS, including:

  • Require state survey agencies to submit data on abuse and perpetrator type
  • Develop guidance on what abuse information nursing homes should self-report
  • Require state survey agencies to immediately refer to law enforcement any suspicion of a crime

CMS has agreed to tighten reporting guidance and data requirements for state survey agencies on abuse and neglect in nursing homes but has not followed calls from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) to examine claims data. Senate Finance Committee leaders are also working to reauthorize the Elder Justice Act and may include nursing home reforms in light of this GAO report.

Click here to read to the full report.