The Center for Public Integrity has released an analysis showing large-scale discrepancies in the nurse staffing information self-reported by nursing homes on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Nursing Home Compare website. By comparing staffing information contained in cost reports nursing homes make annually to the Medicare program and staffing data reported on Nursing Home Compare, the Center has found that the majority of facilities – more than 80% of nursing homes nationwide – report higher levels of registered nurse care to Nursing Home Compare than are reflected in annual cost reports. In addition, according to the Center’s research, over-reporting of the total hours of total nursing care residents receive is commonplace. Although these discrepancies were found throughout the country, eight of the ten states with the largest levels of reporting discrepancies are located in the South.
This newly-released research supports what advocates have known for quite some time – that the nurse staffing information reported and available to consumers on CMS’s Nursing Home Compare website is widely unreliable and inaccurate. As there is a strong correlation between staffing levels in nursing homes and quality of care, the need for publicly available, accurate staffing information is essential for consumers and their loved ones to make well-informed decisions when selecting potential facilities. The Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014, signed into law by President Obama in October of this year, provided funding for development of a system for the collection of nursing home staffing levels through verifiable payroll data (read more about this issue here). It is now imperative for CMS to operationalize this system without further delay in order to fix the current discrepancies found on the Nursing Home Compare website.
To view the Center for Public Integrity’s report, click here. The Center has also included a search feature on the right-hand side of this webpage that permits individuals to search and find the discrepancies in staffing information for more than 10,400 individual nursing homes across the country based on facility name or location. This report is the first part of a continued series from the Center for Public Integrity on nursing homes, which the Consumer Voice was pleased to assist with. Stay tuned for further information in the weeks to come!