The Trump Administrations deregulation effort has led to decreased oversight across the country’s nursing home industry. According to The Washington Post, President Trump’s deregulation agenda has indiscriminately removed “essential protections for vulnerable Americans.” Citing the Trump administration’s popular boast of removing 22 regulations for every single regulation added, the newspaper understandably questions the necessity of these regulations and the consequences of their removal.
Sadly, the nursing home industry has never been a priority for many Presidential administrations. Despite the highly regulated nature of the industry, nursing homes have often escaped the scrutiny lodged at hospitals and other healthcare providers. Late in his second term, President Barack Obama attempted to change that and directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to aggressively pursue nursing homes flouting the law. Beginning in 2014, nursing home violations would not result in a one-time fine. Instead, the nursing home would be fined every single day until the violation was rectified. By 2016, over two-thirds of nursing home violations resulted in a per-day fine. Unfortunately, the Trump administration reversed this change – which was viewed by elder care advocates as broadly effective and necessary.
The Trump Administration has not just reduced the fines for nursing homes across the country, it has even reduced the number of violations. After entering office, President Trump halted a series of safety requirements set to go into effect. The Trump administration said it needed to delay the new health and safety code for 18 months. According to The Washington Post, this was “a giveaway” to the nursing home industry.
Finally, and equally as brazen, the Trump administration also rolled back a ban on “mandatory arbitration clauses.” Mandatory arbitration clauses force nursing home residents to pursue any grievance against a nursing home using a private, third-party. These arbitrators often limit damages and the right to appeals. Further, numerous studies have shown they tend to favor companies when compared to public trials and juries.
Overall, the Trump administration has made the regulatory system more favorable to nursing homes and enabled its violators in the process. While previous administrations merely ignored the nursing home industry, President Trump appears to be actively making things worse for America’s elderly population. In a brazen desire to “cut the red tape,” the Trump administration should focus on what tape is actually being cut.