To help consumers, CMS will rate nursing homes

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will reconfigure the information it presents on its Nursing Home Compare Web site to make it easier for Americans to select a high-quality nursing home.

Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems said the agency will convert the information into a five-star rating system by the end of the year.

It will be easier for consumers to identify the better nursing homes, Weems said, and “the fact that a nursing home has a lower rating will probably put them on the path to improvement.”

On June 24, CMS will hold a public forum to discuss the plan, he said, and make decisions by August on how the ratings will be determined.

CMS will create the ratings using the information already posted on the site, such as the percentage of patients with bedsores and the results of nursing home inspections. The agency is open to adding other measures if solid, consistent data is available, Weems said.

He said he was spurred to make the changes after a Senate hearing in which Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told him it was easier for consumers to choose a good TV set than a nursing home.

Wyden and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, joined Weems at a press conference about the announcement. Wyden called it “an opportunity to promote accountability."

About the Author

Nancy Ferris is senior editor of Government Health IT.

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