SNF sprinkler system legislation rallies industry support
Douglas J. Edwards
The American Health Care Association (AHCA) has praised Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) for sponsoring the Nursing Facility Fire Safety Act of 2004, which requires all nursing homes to be equipped or retrofitted with automatic fire sprinkler systems within five years. The bill, introduced this summer, creates a funding stream to pay for the sprinkling systems through Medicaid and Medicare, and it allows providers to amortize over five years the cost of retrofitting existing facilities, including those that have proceeded with retrofits since September 2003, when CMS required all new facilities to have sprinkling systems.
“Providing the best possible quality of care to patients also involves making ongoing changes to enhance safety–and we believe installing sprinklers in all nursing homes throughout the nation will significantly reduce, if not eliminate, multiple-death nursing home fires,” said AHCA Chair Steven Chies. “The funding and installation timeline stipulations in this bill are fair and realistic, and we urge Congress to pass this important legislation designed to protect our elderly as swiftly as possible.”
The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) has called for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to require all nursing homes to have full sprinkler systems when it issues the next revision to its Life Safety Code in 2006. AAHSA says, in the release calling for the revision, that it believes most of its members already comply with the existing requirement that new or recently renovated facilities have sprinkler systems. (For an interview with NFPA President and CEO James M. Shannon, see Nursing Homes May 2004, p. 40.)
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