PA Puts Nursing Homes on Notice about Increased Fines
The $30,250 in fines that the Pennsylvania Department of Health slapped last month upon a Larimer nursing home could be just the beginning of increased penalties statewide for facilities found deficient by inspectors. The department recently posted a website message advising the approximately 700 nursing homes of a change in enforcement policy likely to bring about increased fines. It emphasized that violators of regulations serious enough to merit a financial penalty in 2017 may have those “calculated on a per violation per day basis.” Regulations already allowed the department to issue fines in that manner, but it has historically based penalties on a single instance rather than using a daily multiplier. The Health Department’s press secretary, April Hutcheson, said Friday that the per-day fines are part of an overhaul of the nursing home enforcement process. She said more consistency among inspectors and more effective deterrents to violations were among department goals after its oversight was faulted in reports last year by both the state Auditor General and a task force of outside experts. The Auditor General noted that the state’s fines are among the lowest in the nation. Even before this year’s change to potential daily fines, the department had been increasing penalties following a sharp drop-off during the previous administration’s tenure. In 2012, not a single fine and only two provisional licenses were issued to violators. In 2016, Ms. Hutcheson reported, there were 56 fines totaling $407,450 and 40 issuances of provisional licenses, which are designed to bring a facility under closer scrutiny.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette