CMS TAKES NEXT STEP TO IMPROVE QUALITY IN NATION'S NURSING HOMES
LATEST IN A SERIES OF ACTIONS TO EXPAND INFORMATION TO CONSUMERS
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today built upon historic action it took last November by making public more names of underperforming nursing homes across the country.
On November 29, 2007, the agency began publishing the names of Special Focus Facility (SFF) nursing homes that had failed to improve significantly after being given the opportunity to do so.
Once a facility is selected as an SFF, state survey agencies are responsible for conducting twice the number of standard surveys and will apply progressive enforcement until the nursing home either (a) significantly improves and is no longer identified as an SFF, (b) is granted additional time due to promising developments, or (c) is terminated from Medicare and/or Medicaid.
“This is the latest in a series of steps we will be taking to improve quality and oversight in nursing homes,” said Kerry Weems, CMS acting administrator. “We are issuing more information on special focus facilities to better equip beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to make informed decisions and stimulate robust improvements in nursing homes having not improved their quality of care.”
Between November and February, CMS worked with states to assure that the SFF list (see link provided) is current and provides consumers with the information needed to make a distinction between nursing homes that are improving and those that are not.
Today’s release includes a broader list of all nursing homes identified in the SFF initiative. This updated and expanded list identifies facilities by the category they fall within, such as:
The SFF initiative was created by CMS in 1998 in response to the number of facilities that were consistently providing poor quality of care. Those facilities were periodically instituting enough improvement so that they would pass one survey, only to fail the next (for many of the same problems as before). Facilities with this compliance history rarely addressed underlying systemic problems that were giving rise to repeated cycles of serious deficiencies.
Serious deficiencies include such things as failing to give residents their medications in the correct dose at the correct time, taking steps to prevent abuse or neglect, inappropriate use of restraints and failure to prevent or properly treat bed sores.
Nearly three million Americans, most of who are enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid, depend on the nation’s 16,000 nursing homes at some point during each year. The number of SFFs in each state varies according to the number of nursing homes in the state. These nursing homes, at the time of their selection as an SFF, had survey results that were among the poorest five or 10 percent in each state.
There are currently about 131 active facilities identified as an SFF. This number varies over time as nursing homes are graduating or leaving Medicare and Medicaid and new nursing homes are in the process of being added to the SFF list.
The CMS data indicate that about 50 percent of the nursing homes identified as SFFs significantly improve their quality of care within 24-30 months, while about 16 percent are terminated from Medicare and Medicaid.
“Today’s announcement is the latest step toward continually improving the SFF initiative and the Nursing Home Compare website, with more improvements to occur throughout the rest of the year,” Weems said. “This spring, for example, we will add links between the individual nursing homes shown on the Compare Web site and the full SFF list.
“In the summer of 2008, we will provide information on methods by which SFFs may access additional technical assistance to help move them into compliance with federal quality of care requirements,” he said.
More on the SFF initiative can be found on the CMS Web site at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/CertificationandComplianc/12_NHs.asp#TopOfPage.
The survey history of all U.S. nursing homes can be found at: http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare.