After initially resisting their disclosure, the Bush Administration has finally allowed the names of 131 nursing homes with poor inspection records to be made public. The list released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services identifies troubled facilities cited as a “special focus facility,” a designation used to identify those that merit more oversight. For these homes, states conduct inspections at six-month intervals rather than annually.
Last November, the government released a partial list of 54 nursing homes that ranked among the worst in their states, balking at releasing the full list of homes with the “special focus” designation. After a group of Democratic lawmakers began pushing for full disclosure, CMS agreed to publish the names. CMS will update its list of troubled nursing homes on a quarterly basis, with its next release scheduled for April.
The list shows 52 nursing homes as not showing improvement after they were cited as a higher-risk nursing home, while another 52 did show some improvement. Twenty-seven nursing homes were added to the list in the last six months. Out of the 54 nursing homes initially disclosed as poor performers last November, 21 have shown improvement, CMS said, adding that publicity about the problems might have played a factor. There are about 16,400 nursing homes nationwide, and taxpayers spend about $72.5 billion annually to subsidize nursing home care.
Most nursing homes have some deficiencies, with the average being six to seven deficiencies per survey. But, the special focus facilities typically have about twice that number, and continue to have problems over a long period of time. The states determine which nursing homes should get the designation, and inspection standards vary among the states. The offenses typically involve unnecessary use of medication for elderly residents, or inadequate safeguards to protect residents such as those with Alzheimer’s from day-to-day hazards in the nursing home. Americans should have access to as much information about a nursing home as possible, and making information like this known to the public is necessary.
Source: Associated Press
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