Secretary of Health and Human Services Richard S. Schweiker yesterday issued proposed new regulations easing inspection requirements for nursing homes, hospitals and other health facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid if they have good records of meeting federal standards.

Schweiker said that instead of annual inspections, hospitals with good records would be inspected only once every three years and other facilities only every two years. Those with poor records would be inspected much more often and on a spot basis, he said.

Schweiker said he is dropping the requirement for automatic 90-day reinspection of facilities found to have a deficiency.

In addition, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals would be allowed to take over certification of nursing homes.

The easing of nursing home inspection rules was one "regulatory reform" sought by Vice President Bush's Task Force on Regulatory Reform.

Pamela J. Parker, a board member of the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, said the group is distressed by some of the changes, which she said could substantially weaken inspection.

She criticized the proposal to require inspection of nursing homes only every two years, the dropping of the 90-day rule and the plan to let the JCAH perform inspections.