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Arizona bill would allow nursing homes to use a third party for annual inspections

Published: Monday, February 6, 2023 - 6:23pm

A bill in the Arizona Legislature would let nursing homes and assisted living facilities use a third party to conduct their annual inspections. 

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, is not too thrilled about this measure.

He says not only would a facility be able to "shop out" the inspection process, as he put it. 

"When there's complaints that come in from loved ones, or members, even who residents have assisted living in skilled nursing, that a third party would follow up on the complaint investigations, as well," Humble said.

Humble says when he was the head of the Arizona Department of Health Services, it was often those complaints and the resulting inspections that led to change.

"Shopping that out, even the complaint investigation part of it to a third party, I think, is asking for trouble," said Humble.

Because a potential conflict of interest could arise if a third party conducts an annual inspection.

"You're the nursing home, you're the customer," he said. "So there's a tendency for the third parties to think of the nursing home or the assisted living center as a customer, rather than somebody that they're regulating."

Dave Voepel is the CEO of the Arizona Healthcare Association which represents skilled nursing homes. He also opposes the measure. Right now, he says, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid pay for a portion of these surveys. 

"The Feds have to approve any type of change to this. No other state has privatized this type of survey, so why would Arizona want to go down that route without even talking to CMS first?" Voepel said.

The bill is likely in response to an Auditor General’s report that found the department of health failed to investigate complaints in a timely fashion or at all. 

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