Murtha Cullina LLP

May 2014 - Long-Term Care Group News

May 14, 2014

CMS: New Dementia Care & MDS Surveys and Update on Special Focus Facilities

On April 18, 2014, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued two survey and certification memos. The first announces that CMS is developing two distinct, focused pilot survey processes – one for dementia care and the other for Minimum Data Set (MDS) 3.0 coding practices. These surveys will be piloted this year with approximately five unidentified states. The dementia care survey will look at resident-level and organizational-level processes. The MDS survey will evaluate MDS assessments and associated care planning. CMS will identify the specific facilities to be surveyed. Identified deficient practices will result in relevant citations. Notably, if the surveyors identify other care concerns while on-site, those concerns will be investigated during the survey or referred back to the state as a complaint for further review.

The second survey and certification memo addresses the status of the Special Focus Facility (SFF) program. CMS reevaluated the SFF program after the 2013 sequester adjustments and determined that the program will remain with some changes intended to speed up final resolution. Facilities on the SFF for more than 12 months will be reviewed for progress and facilities on the list for 18 months will have an 18 month "last chance" on-site survey. If the survey reveals continuing issues, CMS will either implement an even more robust quality improvement program or will terminate the provider agreement. The memo identified Massachusetts as having two "required SFF slots" and a candidate list size of 10. Currently, there are two Massachusetts facilities enrolled in the SFF program.

Providers who have questions regarding this memorandum should contact Heather Berchem at or Dena Castricone at


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