Key Issues in Long-Term Services and Supports Quality

2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Nursing Home Reform Act as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, the federal legislation that substantially strengthened federal standards, inspections and enforcement of nursing home quality. The Act also merged Medicare and Medicaid standards, required comprehensive assessments of residents, set minimal requirements for licensed nursing staff, and required inspections to focus on outcomes of care.1  While progress has been made, care quality issues in nursing homes and residential care facilities2 (also called assisted living) continue to be highlighted frequently in the press3 and by numerous government reports4 and research studies5 (see Appendix Table 1).  Recurring concerns include staffing levels, abuse and neglect, unmet resident needs, quality problems, worker training and competency, and lack of integration with medical care. The last several decades also have seen a shift to home care and other community-based services, with few quality measures for these settings available and little empirical evidence available.

This issue brief discusses four key issues related to long-term services and supports (LTSS) including institutional and home and community-based services (HCBS) quality, highlighting major legislative and policy changes over the last 30 years.  The Appendix Tables provide data about LTSS providers and consumers, summarize key federal laws and policies related to quality, and list selected federal quality measures.

– Kaiser Family Foundation

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