Donald Trump Wants To Roll Back Obama-Era Regulations On Nursing Homes

One of the proposed rollbacks would change how nursing home facilities prescribe antipsychotic drugs to elderly patients.

Shirley Gooding, a physical Therapy Aid, helps William Rexroat, a WWII Navy veteran exercise during a physical therapy session at the Quincy Veterans Home February 17, 2005 in Quincy, Illinois.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

One of the proposed rollbacks would change how nursing home facilities prescribe antipsychotic drugs to elderly patients.

The administration of President Donald Trump has announced its intent to roll back regulations placed on nursing homes enacted during the previous administration, leaving some worried what might happen to elderly individuals housed in such facilities, NPR reported Saturday.

According to NPR reporter Ina Jaffe, the Trump administration, which has made rolling back various Obama-era regulations on industries across the board a cornerstone of its policy – said it plans to reduce regulations on the nursing home industry in cases where they view such regulation as “burdensome” or “inflexible,” the NPR reporter said.

The administration reportedly has suggested that the proposed changes could save nursing homes some $600 million a year, though as NPR noted, the proposed regulation reduction wouldn’t require that any savings be spent on improving patient care, which is what the administration suggested the savings would go toward.

One particular proposal, which has drawn ire from organizations that aim to protect the rights of elderly individuals, would change the rules for prescribing antipsychotic medications to patients at nursing homes, per NPR.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has reportedly spent years attempting to get nursing home facilities to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs, though the new rule could make it easier. Under current regulations, nursing home facilities cannot prescribe patients antipsychotic drugs for longer than two weeks without having a doctor reevaluate a patient. Under the new proposed regulations, nursing homes could go as long as one to two months without having a doctor evaluate a patient, according to the NPR report.

Concerns stem with warnings about antipsychotic drugs – used to treat conditions like Schizophrenia – can often raise the risk of death in older individuals, particularly from ones already suffering from dementia, according to the NPR report.

Richard Mollot, Executive Director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition told NPR that his organization opposes the rule change, and cited a doctor who explained why he likewise opposed the regulation adjustment.

“What he said was that no other insurance company would ever accept that a doctor didn’t have to see a patient before continuing a prescription for medicine,” Mollot said. “But CMS is saying now that that’s okay for nursing homes in this very vulnerable population, and people die from this. They’re affected so catastrophically.”

Still, some have proposed the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back regulations on the nursing home industry.

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Dr. David Gifford, Chief Medical Officer of the American Health Care Association, which represents the nursing home industry, told NPR that they found the proposed Trump administration changes would strike a “nice balance”,” which NPR said the group has been lobbying the 45th president for since before his inauguration in January 2017.

Gifford claimed to NPR that the new regulation would require a physician to document their rationale for prescribing an antipsychotic medication, which he claimed is an improvement over present-day regulations.

As Kaiser Health News has previously reported, the Trump administration has had a history of rolling back regulations, specifically on the nursing home industry. In March, it reported that the president had enacted changes that have significantly lowered the fines faced by nursing homes found to have injured or endangered its residents.

Per Kaiser Health News, fines that reached about $41,260 during President Obama’s final year in the Oval Office have dropped to about $28,405 under the Trump administration.