- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas state agency responsible for inspecting nursing homes did not correctly respond to problems uncovered in a federal government audit, but it has made some improvements in recent months, according to the agency’s officials.

The Office of Inspector General report estimated that the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services failed in 2014 to verify that 65 percent of the issues found during nursing home inspections had been corrected.

The office also determined that the state agency neglected to conduct inspections every 15 months, as it is required to do, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The report said the longest break between inspections was 18 months.

Patty Brown, interim commissioner of the agency’s Survey, Certification and Credentialing Commission, said the staff had a misunderstanding about who was doing the desk review of the facility surveys, and they were not properly following up. She noted the issues were fixed in early 2017.

“The change that occurred was that we now require providers to submit the evidence that shows that that plan has indeed been implemented and the deficiencies are corrected,” Brown said. “We will always go back and do an onsite revisit for serious deficiencies.”

The revised internal procedures brought the agency into compliance with the requirements set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, she said.

She highlighted the statistics from January that indicated just two facilities waited beyond 16 months to be surveyed. There were just 18 facilities exceeding 12 months, Brown said.

“Compare to July 2018, we had 110 over 16 months and another 66 over 12 months,” she said. “We have made a very significant change in that, and very significant improvement in the last six months.”

The Office has issued recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid that would modify the way all states handle inspection reports as a result of Kansas and six other states failing to follow proper processes in previous years.

The recommendations include the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid improving guidance to state agencies, refining forms related to the certification process and clarifying what is acceptable documentation based on the significance of the issue.

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