3 changes coming to Nursing Home Compare

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will make three main changes to the calculations used for the Nursing Home Compare website beginning with the information publicly reported for February, the agency announced in a Feb. 12 call to providers. The changes will mean that February ratings will not necessarily be comparable to previous ratings.

All nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid will be able to preview their February information by mid to late morning Feb. 13 via the MDS portal through which they typically access information, officials said. An updated technical user guide also will be available.

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The changes:

  1. Two measures related to antipsychotic medication use, one for long-stay facilities and one for short-stay facilities, will be incorporated into the five-star ratings. This information already is available on the website but previously has not been part of the star ratings. CMS previously announced that it would be adding measures related to use of antipsychotics to the ratings.
  2. The quality measure scale used for the quality measure dimension will be re-set. The change is expected to raise the standard that nursing centers will need to meet to achieve a high rating on all publicly reported measures in the quality measure dimension on the website. MDS 3.0 delayed the implemenation of this change.
  3. “Minor adjustments” will be made to the staffing dimension. For a facility to receive an overall rating of four stars on staffing, for instance, it will have needed to have earned at least a four-star rating for registered nurse staffing or other staffing (licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses and certified nursing assistants).

The agency expects to add additional quality measures in 2016 and may add more rescaling at that time as well. Staffing data collection related to payroll records, mandated under the Affordable Care Act and facilitated via a presidential executive order announced in conjunction with the signing of the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014, is expected to be implemented for some nursing homes this year. CMS has a goal that all nursing homes will report this information electronically by the end of 2016.

CMS will release details about the revised rating system to the media and public on Feb. 20. Long-Term Living will have additional information as it becomes available. In the meantime, the agency has posted a fact sheet on its website.

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