A New Rating System for Nursing Homes

On Monday, it was announced that the traditional 5-star rating system used for nursing homes would no longer be implemented. The current system has been criticized by health officials for its reliance on self-reported data, which can easily be misleading. The New York Times reported in August that many homes were able to distort the system, earning a 5-star approval rating despite a history of quality problems. The system relies on staffing levels and quality statistics supplied by the nursing homes themselves, without auditing from the government or approval from clients of the homes.

As of January, nursing homes will electronically account for staffing levels on a quarterly basis, cross referenced with payroll data. Officials will also develop a national auditing program in order to ensure accurate quality rating measurements. Furthermore, part of the new ratings will account for the percentage of residents being treated with antipsychotic drugs.

Not only will the changes ensure that nursing homes don’t receive unearned high-marks, but they will also provide consumers with evidence of quality improvements implemented by the industry as a whole. Greg Crist, spokesman for the American Health Care Association, claims increased transparency will be a positive move.

We’ve seen the improvements in quality across the board… Some questioned that a few weeks ago. Yet this push for greater accuracy should help reassure patients and families those improvements are both real and making a difference in improving lives.”

Plans to further adjust other measurements within elder-care are expected to be developed, such as the percentage of residents readmitted to hospitals and percentage discharged to the community. Mr. Lee of Families for Better Care claims the next major step for the government will be to require nursing homes to clearly report their ownership- specifically the names of chains that own or manage the homes.

 

Read more here- ““Medicare Alters Nursing Home Rating System,” (Katie Thomas, New York Times)

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Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.

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