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GAO Examines Abuse Reporting in Nursing Homes vs. Assisted Living

A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Elder Abuse: Federal Requirements for Oversight in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities Differ, examined the variations in oversight and abuse reporting requirements between nursing homes assisted living.   

The GAO was asked to review federal oversight of elder abuse reporting, investigation, and law enforcement notification in both nursing homes and assisted living. The GAO reviewed relevant laws, regulations, and agency guidance, and interviewed state officials from Connecticut, Oklahoma, and South Dakota regarding their home- and community-based services waiver programs that states may extend Medicaid coverage to assisted living.

The report highlighted specific federal requirements for reporting, investigating, and notifying law enforcement of elder abuse for nursing homes and state survey agencies.  For assisted living facilities, the report noted that there are no similar federal requirements as those are regulated by the states.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), however, requires state Medicaid agencies to develop policies to ensure reporting and investigations of elder abuse in assisted living.

In commenting on the report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reiterated its commitment to resident safety and acknowledged the distinct and not directly comparable oversight frameworks for nursing home and assisted living.

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