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Medicare Agency Lists Poorest-Quality Nursing Homes on Web Site

CMS on Thursday released a list naming 54 nursing homes in the U.S. that continually fail to meet safety and quality-of-care standards in their states, the AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The facilities are located in 33 states and the District of Columbia (Freking, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/28).

One facility in California -- Yuba City Care Center in Yuba City -- was included on the list (CMS release, 11/29) (.pdf).

All nursing homes included on the list were designated as a "special focus facility," a designation used by CMS to identify nursing homes that require additional oversight. There are 120 designated special focus facilities nationwide, and states conduct inspections at such facilities every six months, rather than annually. The nursing homes on the list, which is posted on the agency's Web site, received special focus designation but also were found to lack improvement in a later survey.

Nursing homes that receive federal funding are inspected about once per year by regulators who assess whether a facility meets safety and quality-of-care standards. Taxpayers spend about $72.5 billion annually to subsidize nursing home care costs, the AP/Star Tribune reports. Some of the criteria that inspectors look for include administering proper medications to residents, helping residents with daily living activities such as bathing, helping residents with their health care needs and diets, and ensuring that accidents and infections are avoided.

CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems said states select the facilities that receive the special focus label from a list submitted by the agency. He also noted that because of regional differences, nursing homes that make the list in one state might provide better care than a home that is not listed in another state.

Weems said, "I'm careful in saying they're not the worst performers, but they are chronic underperformers," adding, "We're hopeful making this disclosure will put the right kind of pressure, helpful pressure, on the facilities to move to the path of improvement rather than the path to termination."


Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said, "Very, very poor-quality nursing homes do not deserve to be left untouched or unnoticed," adding that the list "is not to be punitive. That's not our goal." Kohl added, "Our goal is to see to it that the people in these nursing homes get better quality care or that they get the opportunity to move somewhere else."

Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, said nursing home administrators support greater disclosure, adding, "Every time you go under a microscope like that, especially in our profession, you want to get out from under that microscope. There will be a heck of a lot of effort not to stay there."

However, administrators are concerned that because of the time it takes for inspection results to be disclosed, nursing homes that have made marked improvements still would be listed on CMS' Web site (AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune, 11/28).

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