Daines asks about HUD-backed deficient nursing homes

Sen. Steve Daines sent a letter Friday to the federal agency that oversees nursing homes, asking about issues raised in a recent New York Times story on some poor-performing homes being backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The June 24 Times story by Matthew Goldstein and Robert Gebelhoff noted 74 nursing homes listed among 478 identified in a recent report of having “serious deficiencies” have HUD-guaranteed mortgages. ]

Daines asked Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials if it coordinates with HUD as it oversees the program known as “Special Focus Facility,” of SFF, for poor performing homes. He also asked what information was shared.  

One of the loans was to Genesis Healthcare, which manages 400 nursing homes nationwide, the Times reported, adding their 60-bed Deer Lodge facility was among their nine homes on the CMS list.

“I am proud of the high-quality nursing homes operating in Montana that provide critical services to seniors and people with disabilities across the state,” the Montana Republican wrote in his letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “I am however concerned about reported incidences of older adults receiving substandard care in nursing homes in Montana and nationwide and want to make sure that there are appropriate processes in place to prevent abuse and improve care in facilities that are not performing well.” 

He said he welcomed the news that CMS will begin publicizing the list of poor performing nursing homes eligible for CMS’ Special Focus Facility (SFF) program.

“This is a step in the right direction that will help families as they make the decision to seek nursing home services for a loved one,” Daines wrote.

There are 88 “participants” on the Special Focus Facility (SFF) program nationwide and 455 “candidates,” according to the report, “Families’ and Residents right to know: Uncovering poor care in America’s nursing homes.” The report was released June 3 by U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, a Republican, and Democrat Pat Toomey, both of Pennsylvania. 

According to the list, the Crest Nursing Home in Butte is on the SFF program as a participant. “Candidates” are the Big Sky Care Center in Helena, Awe Kualawaache Care Center on Crow Agency, Heritage Place in Kalispell, Deer Lodge in Deer Lodge and the state-run Montana Mental Health Nursing Care Center in Lewistown.

Daines sent a letter to CMS on May 3, asking when a review will be completed of nursing home regulations and guidelines.