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Nursing Homes Notified Of Their ‘Five Star’ Ratings Today

Nursing Homes Notified Of Their 'Five Star' Ratings Letters notifying nursing home operators of their facilities rating, according to a new CMS ‘five star’ system, were mailed today.  Beginning on December 18th, the public will be able to access individual nursing home’s ratings on the CMS website ‘Nursing Home Compare.’  In addition to learning about the nursing home’s actual rating on a five star scale, the website will allow users to access each facilities staffing level, compared to other facilities. The nursing home rating will be updated on a monthly basis as an incentive for facilities to consistently improve their care.  I am all for this new system.  Hopefully, this will enable nursing home residents and their families to learn which facilities are providing poor care before they learn on a firsthand basis.

Read more about the nursing home ‘five star’ rating system here.

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  • Gregory D. Pawelski

    CMS’ Ranking Of Nursing Homes Raises Concern
    State Surveys are independent evaluations of nursing facility performance. Annual surveys are conducted by state survey agencies, usually the state’s department of health, using protocols, procedures, and forms developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
    A consumer concern about surveys is the repeated finding by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in a series of reports issued since 1998, that surveys understate deficiencies and cite deficiencies as less serious than they actually are.
    The survey component of CMS’s proposed ranking system provides a more positive statement about quality than justified. States are increasingly using their state enforcement systems, instead of the federal system, to sanction facilities for noncompliance with standards of care. State enforcement actions do not appear on Nursing Home Compare.
    The National Senior Citizens Law Center recommends that consumers use the new rating system with caution, and only as an aid while also pursuing other information and strategies. Consumers need to understand that the five-star system is a beginning, not an end.
    A nursing home’s quality can shift from month to month, so you have to be savvy in asking the right questions. Existing residents and their family members should be asked for their opinions.
    Inspection data is mostly based on a once-a-year survey and may not accurately reflect the nursing home’s performance today. Staffing information and quality measures are “self-reported” data by the nursing homes themselves. Self-reported data makes nursing home quality “appear” to be better than it actually is. It cannot easily be reduced to a star rating.
    A recent GAO study found that nursing homes over-report staffing levels compared with staffing reported on audited Medicaid cost reports. Over-reporting of nursing coverage is associated with for-profit ownership of nursing homes.
    Researchers recommend more careful scrutiny of staffing levels in for-profit facilties during the survey process and that improvements be made to the process of public reporting of staffing levels.
    CMS should provide more and better information on Nursing Home Compare, including links to the actual survey forms and information about staff turnover. Also, CMS should use payroll data to report staffing information.
    Anything to do with “quality indicators” is bogus. When de-regulation failed under the present administration, they wanted, among other things, the “quality indicator” process to eventually replace traditional annual surverys because it relies upon self-reported, unaudited data supplied by the facilities themselves and is without consequences for failures. But it still relies upon self-reported, unaudited data supplied by the facilities themselves.
    It leaves you with that warm-n-fuzzy “we’ll-help-them-fix-their-problems,” even though 99% of their failures are failures of practices they should already be experienced in before they are granted a license. It is part of the “kid-gloves,” don’t be-so-hard-on-the-poor-poor-nursing-homes” from the Bush administration.

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