August 14,2018

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Wyden Calls for Improvements to Nursing Home Rating System

Ranking Finance Democrat Says Seniors and Families Must Have Better Information About Nursing Home Staffing Levels

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today called on the federal government to improve the quality measures for adequate staffing that American seniors and their families use when selecting a nursing home.

“Seniors and their families deserve to know what they’re getting when they select a long-term care provider, but it’s clear that too many are ill-served by the information that’s currently available,” Wyden said. “It’s unacceptable when care providers fall short of delivering on what they promised to a loved one, and more needs to be done to prevent seniors from falling into that situation in the first place. Selecting a nursing home or long-term care provider is one of the most delicate decisions a family can make, and it’s imperative this decision is based off the best and most accurate information available.”

In the letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, Wyden asked the agency for further details on its recent efforts to update the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) 5-Star Quality Rating System that Americans use to compare long-term care providers. Specifically, the letter asks CMS what requirements and safeguards are in place to ensure skilled nursing facilities report accurate information, to assess the discrepancies between staffing data self-reported by SNFs and more comprehensive staffing data based on payroll information, what actions Medicare will take in the instances where self-reported data was inaccurate, to consider updating the SNF five-star quality measurement system to incorporate fluctuations in staffing levels in addition to measuring average staffing, and to consider updating the SNF five-star quality measurement system to incorporate patient and/or family satisfaction.

The letter comes as numerous reports show inadequate staffing levels leading to serious lapses in care at some nursing homes. The rating system was established in 2008 after Wyden highlighted in a committee hearing that it was easier for seniors and their families to compare simple home appliances than it was to compare skilled nursing or long-term care facilities.

The full letter can be found here.