NURSING HOMES: HCFA Launches New Comparative Website
The Health Care Financing Administration has created a new website that allows consumers to compare a majority of the nation's nursing homes. The Senate Special Committee on Aging said the new website is the latest evidence that federal regulators are responding to pressure to improve the nation's nursing home system. The "Nursing Home Compare" site provides inspection records for every nursing home that received Medicaid or Medicare funds, and allows consumers to look up all the nursing homes in a state or search for a particular nursing home by name. It also lists information about state inspectors, ombudsmen and health insurance counselors. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the committee, and ranking member John Breaux (D-LA) said the site "is far from ideal," but amounts to a tremendous improvement in the presentation of inspection records to consumers. "I said in July that we have to let the sun shine on nursing home inspection records. ... This website is a win for consumers," said Grassley. Breaux said, "The new HCFA Nursing Home Compare site is one innovative resource for America's families. Using the site, families can begin their search for the right nursing home in any state, at any time." The senators also said the site will help hospital employees in placing patients in homes, and for aging advocates who can share the information with those lacking Internet access. However, Grassley cautioned against over-reliance on the site, which he said "is limited and should not be the sole basis for choosing a nursing home." The website can be accessed at www.medicare.gov/nursing.home.asp (Aging Committee release, 10/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.