Nursing-Home Tax Studied Revenue Would Be Used to Improve Care, State Inspections

Article excerpt

Nursing homes could be asked to pay a special tax to finance more inspections and improve care under measures a state task force is studying.

The Department of Social Services set up the task force at the request of Gov. Mel Carnahan and officials of the nursing-home industry in response to a Post-Dispatch series, said Gary Stangler. He heads the state Department of Social Services, which inspects nursing homes.

The 14-member task force began last month looking at ways to improve care. The group includes state officials and industry representatives.

Stangler said the task force was discussing:

Frequency of inspections. The group hopes to find a way to do a second, surprise inspection required by Missouri law. Only half get done now, the series revealed.

Interpretation of regulations. The group hopes to give state inspectors and nursing-home workers cross-training to reduce arguments over the law.

Peer review. The group hopes to set up a system similar to those used by doctors and lawyers to ensure quality. Industry officials say some homes now give a bad name to the entire industry.

Money. The group is considering asking homes to pay for inspections, so the state can hire more inspectors. …