Nursing Home Quality: New Report from the Government Accounting Office
The Government Accounting Office (GAO) did a recent study of nursing home quality that produced both interesting and mixed results. Although complaints are up, potential improvements in nursing home quality have been reported.
Quality standards for nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs are set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). CMS ensures and monitors compliance by using state survey agencies to collect data via on-site surveys. These surveys are also used to collect data on nursing home quality.
The GAO was asked to study recent trends in nursing home quality. The GAO reviewed how nursing home quality has changed and the causes for these changes. Next, the GAO examined changes in CMS oversight by reviewing deficiencies, consumer complaints, staffing levels and clinical quality measures. Click here to see the full report.
Mixed Data Results for Nursing Home Quality
The GAO found that the trends in the four areas examined provided insight into nursing home quality, the mixed results they reviewed made it difficult to analyze trends in nursing home quality. For example, while consumer complaints increased, the remaining data sets suggested that there were improvements in nursing home quality.
In addition, the CMS has modified the way it provides oversight to nursing homes. However, the potential effects of these changes has not been measured. While some activities have been expanded, others have been reduced. Some of the reductions in oversight were attributed to limited staff and financial resources. According to the report, “the GAO recommends, among other things, that CMS implement a clear plan for ongoing auditing of self reported data and establish a process for monitoring oversight modifications to better assess their effects.” Per the report, HHS is in agreement with these recommendations. Click here to see the full report.