Fifty-four nursing homes in 34 states and the District of Columbia have made the federal governments worst of list, with 19 states having unsafe facilities on the list for almost three years, according to data released publicly for the first time by the CMS.
The CMS made public the list of so-called special focus facilities, or SFFs, as a way to better inform the nearly 3 million Medicare and Medicaid enrollees who rely on nursing home care about identified lapses in safe, effective care, acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems said in a written statement.
The agencys effort to identify poor-performing nursing homes is intended to promote more rapid and substantial improvement in the quality of care and end the pattern of repeated cycles of noncompliance, Weems said.
The list of SFFs was released because a number of facilities that were providing poor quality of care would straighten up just enough to pass one survey only to fail the next, the CMS said. So-called yo-yo facilities rarely addressed underlying systemic problems that were giving rise to repeated cycles of serious deficiencies, CMS data show.
Once a facility is identified as an SFF, state and federal surveyors will conduct twice the number of surveysnormally two per yearand will apply progressive enforcement until the nursing home makes significant improvement. All told, the CMS has identified 128 SFFs out of about 16,400 active nursing homes. Serial noncompliance can result in financial penalties, denial of payment and ultimately removal from Medicare and Medicaid.
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chairman of the Senates Special Committee on Aging, lauded the CMS for releasing the data. The CMS understands what we understandthat it is in everybodys best interest to let consumers know which nursing homes repeatedly demonstrate deficiencies and violate government standards, he said in a statement. Kohl and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have drafted a nursing home bill that would require the CMS to release the data. -- by Matthew DoBias
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