In April 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced changes that may make it easier for consumers to compare nursing homes in their area. Specifically, CMS made changes to its Nursing Home Compare website and its Five-Star Quality Rating System.
Nursing Home Compare Changes
This is not the first time that significant changes have been made to the Nursing Home Compare website. Prior changes in 2012, 2015, and 2018 were made to improve accuracy and to provide potential nursing home residents and their families with the trustworthy information they need to make informed decisions about nursing home care. The 2019 changes have the same goal.
This time, CMS sought to improve the accuracy and usefulness of the Nursing Home Compare site by making revisions to the:
CMS began using a new inspection process in February 2018. Since it took some time to inspect all nursing home facilities according to the new inspection criteria, CMS froze health inspection ratings on the Nursing Home Compare website. That freeze was lifted in April 2019.
New Staffing Information
According to CMS, nursing home quality increases when staffing increases. Prior to April 2019, nursing homes received one star if they had a registered nurse onsite for seven or fewer days per quarter. Now, nursing homes will receive one star if they have a registered nurse onsite for four or fewer days per quarter. Other changes make it easier for nursing home residents and loved ones to find out more about staff qualifications.
Implementation of New Quality Measures
These changes include adding information about long-term hospitalizations and emergency room transfers. CMS also indicated that it is working on separating quality ratings for short term and long term care.
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