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White House won't cut nursing home inspections

By Kelly Wallace
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration categorically denied that it is planning to reduce federal inspections of nursing homes around the country and ease regulatory requirements, as reported in Friday's New York Times.

Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary, told reporters the story was "completely erroneous," and that the White House is actually planning to unveil initiatives this fall which would "beef up" and "strengthen" federal inspections of nursing homes around the U.S.

"The president believes very strongly that it is a federal responsibility to protect nursing homes," the Bush spokesman said during his daily briefing.

Fleischer said the proposal calling for fewer inspections, which was reported by the newspaper, was discussed by administration officials "more than two weeks ago," and that it was "rejected by the White House out of hand." The Bush spokesman said he was trying to determine which administration officials attended that meeting.

Administration officials said earlier there was an "options paper" that had called for changing inspection regulations, with fewer inspections for nursing homes that have a good record of performance, and more inspections for those homes with a history of bad performance, which was rejected "weeks ago."

Another senior administration official said the White House's focus is on finding ways to be more efficient with existing resources to make sure nursing homes are providing the best quality care.

• National Citizen's Coalition for Nursing Home Reform
• AARP Webplace | How to Choose a Good Nursing Home

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