Medicare Raises Nursing Home Standards

March 30th, 2015 by beasleyferber

Anyone considering nursing home placement for a loved one should consult the Medicare website (www.medicare.gov) and go to the Nursing Home Compare section.  Here, you can type in  your location and find all Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes in your area.  The web site will then give you a plethora of invaluable information about the nursing homes, including their overall ratings, health inspections, staffing and quality measures, in great detail.  The site contains information on about 15,000 nursing homes nationwide.  You can use this tool to compare nursing homes in your area on all of these criteria, and see how they stack up against the average ratings in the state, as well as nationally.  However, as reported in the New York Times on February 20, 2015, the quality ratings of almost one-third of the nation’s nursing homes have been lowered.  This is as a result of the federal government readjusting their quality standards.

The web site has come under criticism, though, for relying on self-reported and undocumented data.  As a result, the federal government tightened up on some of the reporting standards.  Due to this change, according to the Times, the number of nursing homes with a 4 or 5 star rating on quality measures fell from 80% to 50%, and the number of homes with a 1-star rating rose to 13% from 8.5%.  The paper went on to point out that, “The changes led to declines in the quality-measures rating of 63 percent of homes.”

This result is disheartening, of course, but the government having made the standards more strict is welcome.  One can only hope that it will be an incentive for nursing homes to improve their quality.  In any event, even with its flaws, the Nursing Home Compare site is an invaluable tool for anyone considering placing a loved one.

 

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