Changes offer greater support to consumers looking to compare quality of Nursing Homes
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced updates coming in April to Nursing Home Compare and the Five-Star Quality Rating System; strengthening this tool for consumers to compare quality between nursing homes.
The April 2019 updates further advance CMS’s goals to improve the accuracy and value of the information found on the site and promote quality improvement in nursing home care with the result of better health outcomes for residents.
“CMS is committed to safeguarding the health and safety of nursing home residents by ensuring they are receiving the highest quality of care possible,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Our updates to Nursing Home Compare reflect more transparent and meaningful information about the quality of care that each nursing home is giving its residents. Our goal is to drive quality improvements across the industry and empower consumers to make decisions, with more confidence, for their loved ones.”
Nursing Home Compare has a quality rating system that gives each nursing home a rating between 1 and 5 stars. Nursing homes with 5 stars are considered to have above average quality and nursing homes with 1 star are considered to have quality below average. There is one Overall 5-star rating for each nursing home, and a separate rating for each of the following three factors:
Health Inspections: Inspections include the findings on compliance to Medicare and Medicaid health and safety requirements from onsite surveys conducted by state survey agencies at nursing homes.
Staffing Levels: The staffing levels are the numbers of nurses available to care for patients in a nursing home at any given time.
Quality Measures: The quality of resident care measures are based on resident assessment and Medicare claims data.
The April 2019 changes include revisions to the inspection process, enhancement of new staffing information, and implementation of new quality measures.
This includes a lifting of the ‘freeze’ on the health inspection ratings instituted in February 2018. CMS ‘froze’ the health inspection star ratings category after implementing a new survey process for Long-Term Care facilities. Ending the freeze is critical for consumers. In April, individuals will be able to see the most up to date status of a facility’s compliance, which is a very strong reflection of a facility’s ability to improve and protect each resident’s health and safety.
Additionally, CMS is setting higher thresholds and evidence-based standards for nursing homes’ staffing levels. Nurse staffing has the greatest impact on the quality of care nursing homes deliver, which is why CMS analyzed the relationship between staffing levels and outcomes. CMS found that as staffing levels increase, quality increases and is therefore assigning an automatic one-star rating when a Nursing Home facility reports “no registered nurse is onsite.”
To provide further value and remain consistent with CMS’s Meaningful Measures initiative, the April 2019 Nursing Home Compare Update includes adding measures of long-stay hospitalizations and emergency room transfers, and removing duplicative and less meaningful measures. CMS is also establishing separate quality ratings for short-stay and long-stay residents and revising the rating thresholds to better identify the differences in quality among nursing homes making it easier for consumers to find the right information needed to make decisions.
For more information and to view Nursing Home Compare, visit: https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html