Medicare Changes Nursing Home Rating System

The government this month announced major changes to its five-star rating system for nursing homes, a widely used consumer tool that had been criticized for relying on data supplied by the homes themselves.

Under the new system, the homes will have to begin reporting their staffing levels quarterly using an electronic system that can be verified with payroll data, says a story in the New York Times.

And officials will initiate a nationwide auditing program aimed at checking whether the so-called quality measures rating – based on information collected on every patient – is accurate.

Beginning in January, homes’ ratings will also be based partly on the percentage of patients being given anti-psychotic drugs.

The new system eventually will also allow consumers to view other statistics like staff turnover, another key measure of quality.

President Obama signed into law a bipartisan bill that provides $11 million in funding to set up an electronic collection system. It also calls for more frequent inspections of hospices.

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