Failing US nursing homes to face tougher federal penalties

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. subpar / sʌbˈpɑr / (adj.) – average or below what is expected or acceptable

    The restaurant has good food, but the service is subpar.

  2. fester / ˈfɛs tər / (v.) – to become worse as time passes

    The bad smell from the garbage dump has been festering for a long time.

  3. of sorts / ʌv sɔrts / (idiom) – the same in some ways but not exactly

    He made a blanket of sorts from old curtains.

  4. enforcement / ɛnˈfɔrs mənt / (n.) – the act of making people obey a rule or law

    The enforcement of the new traffic rules seems to lessen the number of cars on the road.

  5. ratio / ˈreɪ ʃoʊ / (n.) – a relationship that shows how big or small one amount is against another

    The ratio of women to men at our office is 10 to 4.


Read the text below.

The worst-of-the-worst nursing homes will face tougher penalties if conditions don’t improve at their facilities, the Biden administration announced.

The intensified scrutiny on some nursing homes, where more than a million people are housed, comes nearly two years after COVID-19 exposed subpar care and extreme staffing shortages that had long festered in the facilities. Nursing home residents have been significantly more likely to die from COVID-19; as of February, more than 200,000 nursing home staffers or residents had died from the virus.

President Joe Biden had promised during his State of the Union address in February to overhaul the nation’s nursing home system, but some of those initiatives have yet to be implemented fully.

The new guidelines announced Oct. 21 will apply to less than 0.5% of the nation’s nursing homes. The facilities are already designated as a “special focus facility” because of a previous violation and are on a watchlist of sorts that requires the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare to monitor them more regularly.

Starting Oct. 21, those nursing homes will lose federal funding if they receive more than one dangerous violation — rule-breaking that put residents at risk for harm. They will also be monitored for a minimum of three years. CMS will also consider staffing levels at the nursing homes when adding facilities to its watchlist. Currently, 88 nursing homes are on the list.

“Let us be clear: We are cracking down on enforcement of our nation’s poorest-performing nursing homes,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The agency is studying staffing ratios at nursing homes, with the aim of implementing requirements. The study is expected to be completed next year.

The administration also announced $80 million worth of grants that will be given to health care organizations, trade groups or labor unions to train and hire nursing staff. Organizations have until Jan. 6 to apply for the money.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The worst-of-the-worst nursing homes will face penalties and can lose funding. What do you think can be done for the affected residents? Discuss.
  • What is your opinion of nursing homes in your country (ex. they are managed well, they provide poor services)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The scrutiny of some nursing homes exposed extreme staffing shortages. Why do you think some nursing homes are short on staff (ex. job is too difficult, career is not worthwhile)? Discuss.
  • What can the government or the facilities do to encourage people to work in nursing homes? Discuss.