CMS Announces Changes to Nursing Home Compare Coming in 2015

On October 6, 2014, the IMPACT Act was signed into law by the President, and along with it came an announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that is will be making changes to Nursing Home Compare for 2015 that will have a strong impact on the current reporting measures.

Since August, members of the Congressional Seniors Task Force had been asking that CMS require staffing information for long term care facilities to be provided via the payroll system, not through current self-reporting measures. The intent of this is to decrease facilities’ abilities to “staff up” before survey when this reporting is required. Using funding from the IMPACT Act of 2014, a quarterly electronic reporting system that uses payroll data will be used to verify staffing information. This process will start with a pilot test that will begin in FY 2015 and be required nationally by the end of FY2016.

Starting in January 2015, several other changes will be underway to improve the quality of the data that is provided for Nursing Home Compare, including:

  • Nationwide Focused Survey Inspections – Earlier this year, CMS had been piloting new focused survey types, one focusing on dementia care practices and the other on accuracy of the MDS 3.0. These focused surveys will be rolled out in January 2015 for a sample of nursing homes. The specific focus of the surveys has not yet been released, but the press release notes that these surveys will assist with verifying Quality Measures and staffing levels.
  • Improved Scoring Methodology for the Five Star Rating System – The current scoring system will be revised to emphasize data that is independently verified rather than data that is self-reported.
  • New Quality Measures Being Added – There will be several new Quality Measures put into place. The first new measure will begin being used in January 2015 and will focus on reporting anti-psychotic medication use. While headway has been made in this area and the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care has recently set a new goal for reducing the national prevalence of antipsychotic drug use in long stay nursing home residents, this measure is intended to create more transparency for consumers.
  • Timely and Complete Data Availability – Requirements for the States to complete inspections in a timely fashion and provide more inspection data will be underway.

CMS notes that Quality Measures on re-hospitalization rates and the rates of returning Medicare beneficiaries will also be added. Requirements for home health providers to improve their quality of care have also been set forth.

Read the press release here.

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