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IMPACT Act gives consumers better data about nursing homes

10-27-2014 - According to its detractors, Medicare's Five Star Rating System for nursing homes does not always provide consumers with an accurate picture of a nursing home's quality. They point to the fact that ratings rely in no small measure on data that the nursing homes themselves provide. That data, such as staffing levels, are too easily manipulated in order to secure an unrealistically and undeserved favorable rating.

In response to increasing skepticism over the reporting system, Medicare is revamping its rating guidelines. The recent Impact Act (Improving Medicare Post-Acute Transformation Act) will require that nursing homes:

  • Report staffing levels electronically and on a quarterly basis, so that reports can be verified against payroll data. Staff turnover will also now be considered.
  • Be subjected to more frequent auditing and more intense oversight to ensure that quality of care reports are accurate.
  • Provide previously unreported measures of quality, such as the percentage of patients who develop bedsores or experience falls.

The new guidelines go into effect January 2015. The newly compiled ratings will be available to the public beginning January 2016.

Hospice facilities will also come under more vigorous scrutiny. Currently the federal government requires that states inspect hospice facilities only once every six years.

Also, a five star rating system is also being developed to provide consumers with quality ratings for dialysis centers, home health care services and hospitals.

More information here.

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