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GAO to conduct review of Nursing Home Compare tool

August 31, 2015
by Megan Combs, Associate Editor
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After receiving letters from Congressional leaders questioning the integrity of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Nursing Home Compare rating system, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has agreed to conduct a review of the tool. The letters came from Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings, (D-Md.), according to the Center for Public Integrity.

It was reported earlier this year that as many as 80 percent of nursing homes had inflated staff numbers to get a better rating. 

"We owe our families the peace of mind in knowing that the rating system they’re using to make a critical decision about the future of their loved ones is accurate," Casey said in a release. "The Five Star rating system has the potential to make a substantial difference in the lives of vulnerable seniors but the Administration has to make sure the rating system is working. A GAO review will put the Five Star Rating program on a stronger footing."

In a joint press release, Wyden and Casey agreed that getting the GAO to conduct this review is the first step toward ensuring the accuracy of the system that many families rely on. Separately, Cummings wrote, "The quality of our nursing homes is critical to our nation’s seniors and their families. That is why I sent a letter last year to CMS expressing serious concerns that some nursing home facilities were gaming the current ‘five-star’ rating system to mislead consumers about the quality of care they provide.  I commend GAO for agreeing to review this system to ensure that it provides accurate and reliable information while encouraging all nursing homes to achieve a higher quality of care for our nation’s seniors."

Read their letters to the GAO here.

Related articles:

Report: Nursing homes inflate staff numbers for better Nursing Home Compare ranking

Senator questions integrity of five-star nursing home rating system