Resources

The National Nursing Home Initiative: New DOJ Taskforce Bolsters Nursing Home Enforcement

March 9, 2020

Care worker and resident

On March 3, 2020, Attorney General William Barr announced the National Nursing Home Initiative—a new U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) taskforce organized to push criminal and civil enforcement action against nursing homes across the country. The initiative will help coordinate DOJ enforcement actions against nursing homes that provide “grossly substandard care.”

The National Nursing Home Initiative has already begun investigating approximately 30 nursing facilities across nine states.

The DOJ emphasized it will target nursing homes that “consistently fail to provide adequate nursing staff to care for their residents, fail to adhere to basic protocols of hygiene and infection control, fail to provide their residents with enough food to eat so that they become emaciated and weak, withhold pain medication, or use physical or chemical restraints to restrain or otherwise sedate their residents.”[1]

DOJ penalties can be severe. A Georgia nursing home operator was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2012 for health care fraud. The nursing home conditions were “appalling” and “horrendous” according to a Georgia state surveyor, where food shortages bordered on starvation, the facility was consistently understaffed, and insects infested the nursing home. Medicare and Medicaid fraud by nursing homes totaled almost $33 million over three years.

Healthcare fraud continues to be a primary concern of the DOJ. In 2019 alone, more than $2.6 billion in settlements and judgments were collected from health care providers and manufacturers, marking the 10th consecutive year that these collections have exceeded $2 billion. Attorney General Barr’s latest announcement makes clear this trend will continue in 2020 and beyond. According to Barr, the new National Nursing Home Initiative “will bring to justice those owners and operators who have profited at the expense of their residents, and help to ensure residents receive the care to which they are entitled.”[2]

For more information about the National Nursing Home Initiative, please contact Jonathan Feld (312-627-5680 or jfeld@dykema.com), Phyllis Adams (734-214-7664 or pdadams@dykema.com), Eric Klein (248-203-0891 or eklein@dykema.com), Kathrin Kudner (734-214-7697 or kkudner@dykema.com), Jason Ross (214-462-6417 or jross@dykema.com), David Padalino (734-214-7616 or dpadalino@dykema.com), or your Dykema relationship attorney.


[1] Department of Justice Launches a National Nursing Home Initiative, (2020), https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/department-justice-launches-national-nursing-home-initiative (last visited March 6, 2020).

[2] Id.

As part of our service to you, we regularly compile short reports on new and interesting developments and the issues the developments raise. Please recognize that these reports do not constitute legal advice and that we do not attempt to cover all such developments. Rules of certain state supreme courts may consider this advertising and require us to advise you of such designation. Your comments are always welcome. © 2020 Dykema Gossett PLLC.