Ohio Senate Republicans aim to nix some state nursing home oversight
Ohio Senate Republicans aim to nix some state nursing home oversight

The sway of Ohio’s nursing home industry over the state legislature is holding steady, despite a pandemic in which many such centers became COVID-19 hotspots.

Senate Republicans last week in the state budget bill greatly reduced, if not outright eliminated, key provisions put forth by Gov. Mike DeWine that would put more checks on skilled nursing facilities.

The industry praised the changes as a fight back against what it called unnecessary government overreach, but opponents fear they could put nursing home residents at more risk. 

In contrast, the House had made relatively minor modifications, if not left the two provisions untouched. The Senate’s harder stance sets the stage for negotiations on a compromise to be reached by the end of June.

Orders against nursing homes

The governor wanted to give his Department of Health the power to issue fines, orders or corrective action against nursing facilities without notice, in cases where immediate action was necessary.

“This will enable the department to swiftly intervene to protect and, if necessary, remove patients from a nursing facility if the health and safety of the patients is at immediate risk,” said Health Director Stephanie McCloud. “The need for the change has been evidenced by a few instances in which residents required assistance.”

Ohio Department of Health Director Stephanie McCloud.

She cited an instance where the department was unable to do anything after a nursing home during the winter was unable to maintain an acceptable temperature when boilers stopped functioning.

Under the governor’s budget proposal, nursing homes after the fact could still request a hearing within a month to appeal the decision. No more than a $250,000 fine would be imposed for each instance, and a home would also have to reimburse the health department for any expenses needed to take immediate action.