New CMS Nursing Home Ratings Don't Solve Accuracy Issues, Sen. Casey Says


New nursing home ratings published on a Medicare-run consumer website don't answer questions about the system's accuracy, a Democratic senator told me.

Increasing the number of measures on which nursing homes must report offers seniors and people with disabilities, along with their families, more information when picking a nursing home, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) told me yesterday. However, these changes don't “impact the accuracy and reliability of the measures reported,” Casey said, adding that he and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in 2015 asked the Government Accountability Office to examine the nursing home five-star rating system and help determine its accuracy.

Casey and Wyden, in their letter to the GAO requesting the investigation, said media reports questioned the rating system's integrity ever since the CMS made changes to the Nursing Home Compare website in 2015. In February 2015, the CMS added quality measures on antipsychotic medication use and staffing levels. “We expect the GAO report to be published this fall [2016] and look forward to their recommendations on how the system can be improved,” Casey told me.

Nursing Home Compare is a public website that consumers can use to search for and compare nursing homes. The site features a five-star rating system, which evaluates nursing homes' performance on health inspections, staffing levels and quality measures. These three ratings are combined to calculate an overall rating, which ranges from one star (the worst) to five stars (the best).

Read my full story for an explanation of the data that now makes up the new star ratings.

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