Federal regulators said Wednesday they plan to go public with lists of troubled nursing homes in the future, days after Pennsylvania lawmakers unveiled a secret list of 400 such facilities. The report highlighted continuing shortfalls and included a wait list of roughly 400 poor performing nursing homes for a federal corrective program called the Special Focus Facility, which is limited to 88 facilities because of budget constraints.
Sens. Casey and Toomey began investigating nursing home oversight earlier this year in response to years of media reports of poor care in America's nursing homes, including a 2016 PennLive series on chronic problems in Pennsylvania facilities and a follow-up 2018 investigation.
Although CMS compiles the wait list monthly, the agency has not made it publicly available. "Moving forward, I hope CMS will give the public this particular list, as well as all relevant information about nursing home quality".
CMS does publicly disclose names of a smaller group of about 80 nursing homes that are getting special scrutiny to help them resolve documented quality problems. That program comprises 88 nursing homes, including one in Alabama, that receive a higher level of observation by CMS and could lead to the stripping of their Medicare and Medicaid funding if violations are not corrected. The selected nursing homes usually have similar quality and safety performance compared with other candidates.
Goodrich welcomed the transparency discussion but noted there is more detailed quality information available on the agency's "consumer-friendly" Nursing Home Compare website.
Efforts by AL.com to reach the four nursing homes were not immediately successful.
"CMS's work isn't done", Goodrich said. "CMS empowers consumers, their families, and their caregivers by giving them the resources they need to make informed decisions".
The two primary trade groups that represent nursing homes in the United States - the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and LeadingAge - responded to the senators' report in separate statements Tuesday.
The almost 400 facilities that are candidates for the shorter list "qualify for the program because they are identified as having a "persistent record of poor care" but are not selected for participation as a result of limited resources at (CMS)", said the report from Casey and Toomey.
The star rating system, however, has been beleaguered with complaints from advocates following previous news investigations that found nursing homes were gaming the system by staffing up for annual inspections to appear better able to meet resident demands, for example.
"In addition, it's important to spend time looking at the entire picture of a facility when making care decisions", Martino said in an e-mail to SNN. "It's just not okay for a family to be kept in the dark about the quality of care that their family member is receiving at the residence of a nursing home", Sen.
A nursing home industry group says it generally supports transparency and takes no position on release of the list.