For more than a year, there have been requests made to the Government Accountability Office to provide insight into how it determines nursing home worthiness across the nation. Now, it has agreed to review the rating system used to rate nursing homes, according to U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
In August, 2014, a letter authored by Cummings was sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requesting a briefing on the five-star rating system after a New York Times article showed significant deficiencies in the rating system. Soon, CMS announced it would revise its algorthyms, but that didn’t answer the questions the elected officials have.
“The GAO’s decision to conduct a review is a first step toward ensuring the accuracy of this system that millions of families rely on,” Casey and Wyden said in the letter. “The five-star rating system has the potential to make a substantial difference in the lives of vulnerable seniors but the (Obama) administration has to make sure the rating system is working. We have to get this right.”
The Comparison Tool
This system, known as the Nursing Home Compare tool, is designed to function on a public website consumers can use to search for and compare nursing homes for themselves or their loved ones. We all want the best for our families and this tool should provide the type of authentic information needed when making these kinds of decisions.
Currently, the site has a Five-Star Quality Rating System that rates nursing homes on a scale of one to five in three major performance areas — health inspections, staffing and quality measures — as well as one overall rating. Cummings agreed that it’s important, but that when serious concerns aren’t addressed in a timely manner, it can mislead consumers and worse, result in a choice that’s anything but ideal for a loved one, “The quality of our nursing homes is critical to our nation’s seniors and their families. That is why I sent a letter last year to CMS expressing serious concerns that some nursing home facilities were gaming the current ‘five-star’ rating system to mislead consumers about the quality of care they provide.”
Nursing Home Ratings Reviews
The ratings system has been changed and provided the General Accounting Office will answer questions during a meeting, hopefully this will close the loop on these problems. The three officials commend GAO for agreeing to “review this system to ensure that it provides accurate and reliable information while encouraging all nursing homes to achieve a higher quality of care for our nation’s seniors.”
As estate planning attorneys, we too know how important it is for loved ones to have faith in the nursing homes that will become home for someone they love. Any insight is a benefit, provided the information is accurate. The updated system and ratings of nursing homes are available online at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website.
If you’d like to learn more about Medicaid and Medicare and how to make the most of your options for long term care, we invite you to contact DeBruyckere Law Offices at (603) 894-4141 or (978) 969-0331.