Trump Administration Simplifies Nursing Home Comparison Tools
In a press release issued by CMS.gov, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency praised the Trump administration for enhancing transparency about nursing home abuse and neglect. The administration announced that it would be making enhancements to the “already robust Nursing Home Compare tool” on the CMS website that will better empower “consumers to make the right decisions for themselves and their loved ones.”
Nursing Home Compare Website Provides Essential Health and Safety Information
The Nursing Home Compare website contains a wealth of information families need to assess whether a facility is suitable for their family members. It includes details about things like:
- Staffing levels and ratios
- Whether it meets federal standards of safety (safety inspection reports)
- Whether it meets national standards of health (health inspection reports)
- Quality of performance
Centers for Medicare and Medicate Nursing Home Compare Website Has Flaws
While this website and its contents have provided families with access to useful information, it is not without flaws. For example, the website can be tough to navigate, especially for those who are elderly and perhaps not tech-savvy. Finding information about abuse, for instance, currently requires multiple steps and a “deep-dive” into the health inspection reports.
The current Star Rating system on the CMS site also has some flaws. For example, a nursing home with five stars would appear to be a perfect place for someone. A highly rated nursing home, however, may excel in some areas but have severe problems in others. There is little reason for a consumer to do additional research when they see five stars – but the rating alone does not depict the entire story.
New Icon to Help Families Understand Nursing Home Ratings and Reports
Beginning October 23, 2019, this icon will appear beside an “ facilities cited on inspection reports for one or both of the following: 1) abuse that led to harm of a resident within the past year; and 2) abuse that could have potentially led to harm of a resident in each of the last two years.” The icon will be updated monthly, simultaneously with CMS inspection results. The presence of this icon will be an automatic warning to the consumer. It presents an easy way for people to access critical, current information directly related to decisions about the health and safety of their loved ones.
The new icon will support the Star Ratings but will add a new level of transparency for consumers. As CMS stated in its release, “a nursing home cited for an incident of abuse may have adequate staffing numbers and provide excellent dementia or rehabilitative care. Previously, consumers would clearly see this facility’s performance in these areas through the Star Ratings, but abuse complaint allegation information may not have been as clear. Under the CMS action announced today, this facility would have an alert icon displayed, allowing consumers to see both its Star Ratings and the icon, helping them easily weigh the facility’s quality.”
CMS’s Five Pillar Approach Includes Better Transparency
The Trump administration and CMS’s Seema Verma have been pushing to keep America’s nursing homes safe for all residents. Helping consumers make informed decisions and ending abuse and neglect are the goals of the administration’s five-part plan. The plan involves:
- Strengthening Oversight
- Enhancing Enforcement
- Increasing Transparency
- Improving Quality
- Putting Patients Over Paperwork
Implementation of the new Icon puts this new initiative squarely in the category of increasing transparency. As administrator Verma stated, “With today’s action, the Trump Administration is putting critical information at consumers’ fingertips, empowering them and incentivizing nursing homes to compete on cost and quality.”
Contact Alonso Krangle if You or a Loved One is Experiencing Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Our lawyers understand how difficult it can be to watch someone suffer at the hands of a trusted caregiver. Call Alonso Krangle, LLP today at 800-403-6191, for a free evaluation of your nursing home abuse claim.