FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 29, 2007
CMS Publishes National List of Poor-Performing
Nursing Homes, Key Tool for Families Seeking Quality Care
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today released the first
ranking of the nation's poor-performing nursing homes.
Release of the national list of facilities, identified as special focus
facilities (SFFs), is expected to offer individuals, seeking long-term
health care services, and their families powerful new information when
choosing nursing homes.
"Nearly three million Americans, most of who are enrolled in
Medicare or Medicaid, depend on the nation's 16,000 nursing homes at some
point during each year to provide life-saving care," said CMS Acting
Administrator Kerry Weems. "Release of this national list of special focus
facilities reinforces CMS' commitment to provide beneficiaries and their
families the information they need when making long-term care choices."
Release of the list was prompted by the number of facilities
that were consistently providing poor quality of care, yet were periodically
instituting enough improvement that they would pass one survey only to fail
the next (for many of the same problems as before). Such facilities with a
"yo-yo" compliance history rarely addressed underlying systemic problems
that were giving rise to repeated cycles of serious deficiencies.
Once a facility is selected as an SFF, the state survey agency
conducts twice the number of standard surveys and will apply progressive
enforcement until the nursing home either (a) significantly improves and is
no longer identified as an SFF, (b) is granted additional time due to
promising developments, or (c) is terminated from Medicare and/or Medicaid.
CMS and the state can more quickly terminate a facility that is placing
residents in immediate jeopardy.
The CMS policy of progressive enforcement means that any nursing home, not
just those identified as an SFF, that reveals a pattern of persistent poor
quality is subject to increasingly stringent enforcement action. If
problems continue, the severity of penalties will increase over time,
ranging from civil monetary penalties, denial of payment for new admissions
and, ultimately, removal from Medicare and/or Medicaid.
As of October 2007, there were 128 SFFs, out of about 16,000 active nursing
homes. The number of SFFs in each state varies according to the number of
nursing homes in the state. These nursing homes, at the time of their
selection as an SFF, had survey results that were among the poorest five or
10 percent in each state.
Today's list includes 54 facilities that are at the top of the poorest
performers in those states and among those facilities that have failed to
Typically, these facilities achieve improved survey results
after being selected for the initiative. The CMS data indicate that about 50
percent of the nursing homes identified as SFFs significantly improve their
quality of care within 24-30 months, while about 16 percent are terminated
from Medicare and Medicaid.
In addition to publishing the list of SFFs, CMS is taking many
other steps to improve the quality of care in the nation's nursing homes
including a new program that will make the payment system more sensitive to
quality improvements; developing new, more stringent systems for criminal
background checks on facility workers and applicants; unprecedented focus on
preventing catastrophic pressure ulcers in nursing home residents; and
improving the state survey process.
"CMS' effort to identify poor performing nursing homes is
intended to promote more rapid and substantial improvement in the quality of
care in identified nursing homes and end the pattern of repeated cycles of
non-compliance," Weems noted.
In addition to consulting the CMS list of SFFs found on
beneficiaries and their families looking for a nursing home should take
other steps including:
* Visit the nursing home. Talk to staff, residents, and other
families. Request to see the results from the last state or CMS survey.
* Prior to a visit, review the survey history of the nursing home on
Nursing Home Compare to better understand any areas that may be problematic.
* Ask the nursing home staff what they are doing to improve the
quality of care for residents in the nursing home.
* Call the state survey agency to learn more about the nursing home.
If the facility is in the special focus initiative, find out how long it has
participated. Facilities in the program for 18-24 months are either close to
"graduating" because of significant improvements to care, or ending their
participation in Medicare and Medicaid.
* Call your local state nursing home ombudsman, Administration on
Aging, and local groups to learn more about the nursing home.
* Use the Nursing Home Brochure
and "Guide to
Choosing a Nursing Home"
- both publications
are available on Nursing Home Compare.