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CMS develops staffing, census system

April 8, 2015
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that it has developed an electronic system whereby long-term care (LTC) facilities will submit staffing and census information as required under the Affordable Care Act. The system, which CMS is calling the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ), is being implemented via funding from the Impact Act of 2014.

By law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is required to collect from LTC facilities information about their direct-care employees, contractors and agency workers on a regular basis. Reported information must include the category of work that a certified employee performs (such as whether the employee is a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, licensed vocational nurse, certified nursing assistant, therapist or other medical personnel) as well as resident census data. Nursing homes may submit information manually or through a payroll vendor, but the information must be verifiable, auditable and supplied according to HHS specifications.

CMS has a goal that all nursing homes will report the information electronically by the end of 2016. The voluntary submission of payroll data will begin this Oct. 1; registration for submission will begin in August. Staffing information factors into the five-star ratings that appear on CMS’ Nursing Home Compare website for consumers.

CMS has posted additional information—including a draft PBJ policy manual, submission specs, information on the timing and process associated with submissions, and sample entry screens—on its website. The agency encourages nursing homes to share the link with their software developers and payroll vendors so that they can evaluate the technical specifications. CMS also invites developers and vendors to register at to receive PBJ news, updates and information about a May 6 conference call it will hold for developers and vendors. Technical and software-related questions regarding the PBJ data submission specifications should be sent to by May 1 so that they can be addressed in the call.

Nursing homes can send PBJ policy-related questions and comments to

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