A recent report by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News has described new Medicare ratings reforms that will change the way that nursing home performance is scored. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced these changes in an effort to hold nursing homes more accountable for resident health and safety amongst the waves of abuse reports that have flooded recent news.
One of the first changes under the Medicare ratings reforms was the removal of the rating statistics describing the percentage of short-term nursing home residents who have reported moderate to severe pain. The statistics describing the percentage of long-term residents who have reported moderate to severe pain have also been removed from the ratings system.
The more controversial change under the Medicare ratings reforms have been the addition of an alert icon next to the name of certain nursing homes. The icon in question is a bright red stop sign with a hand that will be placed beside nursing homes or care facilities that have recently received citations for abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Additionally, any facility that features the bright red warning icon will also have its health inspection ratings capped at a maximum rating of two stars and the facility’s overall rating will not be allowed to exceed four stars.
that have received recent abuse, neglect or exploitation citations.
While the Medicare ratings reforms were initiated in an attempt to force responsibility on nursing homes, some critics argue that the measures have been too harsh. Amy Stewart, vice president of curriculum development for the American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing voiced concern about how the changes will affect facilities following the implementation of the reforms on October 23. Stewart told McKnight’s journalists that “every facility across the United States is just one incident from getting this icon and then being capped at this two-star, four-star overall.”
In light of that concern, Stewart and other nursing home advocates are requesting additional determinates and a uniform survey between states before the national rating system brought unintentional ruin on facilities. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid disagrees and has stated that the Medicare ratings reforms will continue to increase the quality measures in an effort to see nursing homes correct their deficiencies.
Whether these new measures will enact meaningful changes in the lives of residents is not certain, but the Medicare ratings reforms will be rolling out in late October.
For more information about the dangers of neglect in nursing homes, visit the National Association of Nursing Home Attorney’s Neglect Page.