The Department of Health and Human Services has agreed to create a commission to study nursing-home inspection problems, easing a festering dispute with Congress over proposed regulations in that area, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said yesterday.
Waxman and other members of Congress had blocked the regulations on the grounds that they would weaken nursing-home inspections.
Waxman said that Carolyne K. Davis, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), told him Monday that HHS will contract with the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine for a study of nursing-home regulation and inspection problems.
Meanwhile, he said, the HCFA will not put any new proposals into effect unless they are accepted by both industry and consumer groups.
Davis confirmed through a spokesman that she has agreed to fund such a study but said that she has not agreed to make no changes in the regulations.
Waxman has sought passage of a bill to set up a similar commission. He said yesterday that he is "very gratified" by Davis' decision "since it is clear we need an objective look at the total body of nursing-home regulations."
The current dispute dates to 1982, when Richard S. Schweiker, then secretary of HHS, proposed regulations relaxing the annual inspection requirement for "skilled" nursing homes participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Under that plan, homes with good records would have been inspected only every two years.
He also proposed dropping a requirement that deficient homes be reinspected within 90 days. He also proposed letting the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals take over nursing-home certification.
Responding to protests, Congress attached a rider to last year's tax bill to block the regulation temporarily.