April 28, 2020

Warren, Markey, Trahan Call on CMS to Increase Oversight of Life Care Centers of America, Other Nursing Homes to Protect Workers and Residents

Request comes after the deaths of 16 residents and a former employee at Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley

Text of Letter (PDF)


Washington, DC  - Yesterday, United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03), wrote to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requesting that additional oversight measures be put into place to protect staff and residents of Life Care Centers of America (LCCA) and other nursing home facilities from COVID-19. The letter cites the failure of the company’s corporate leadership to alert local officials to the rapid spread of the disease at LCCA facilities around the country, including in Littleton where at least 78 residents and 14 staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and 16 residents and Maria Krier, a former health care professional at the Nashoba Valley facility, have died.


“We write to express our serious concern about apparent failures to protect dozens of vulnerable residents and staff from COVID-19 at skilled nursing facilities in the Life Care Centers of America (LCCA) network. It is within your authority to ensure that LCCA facilities and others under your oversight are properly disinfected, that the operators are forewarned of the potential consequences of failing to adhere to CMS guidelines, and that state and local public health authorities are alerted when operators fall short,” the lawmakers wrote.


On April 19th, CMS issued new guidance requiring nursing homes to report all cases of COVID-19 directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and inform infected residents’ families. The directive also requires that facilities notify residents still at the nursing home of new infections, and it reinforced “an existing requirement that nursing homes must report communicable diseases, healthcare-associated infections, and potential outbreaks to State and Local health departments.”


The lawmakers, citing the pattern of outbreaks at LCCA facilities and subsequent lack of transparency from the company in each case, wrote that this new guidance fails to meet the danger of an organization of this size with an unwillingness to respond adequately to the spread of this disease.


“The case of LCCA illustrates the need for CMS to ensure that all relevant public health authorities are alerted when one or more facilities within an operator’s regional or national network is discovered to have a COVID-19 infection,” the lawmakers continued.


As CMS works towards finalizing this new guidance, the lawmakers requested that LCCA and similar companies be required to notify state and local public health officials that oversee a facility within their network whenever a case of COVID-19 is discovered, even if the infected facility is outside of the officials’ area of oversight. They also encouraged CMS to use all of their enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with the new directive.