To improve quality at the nations nursing homes, the CMS will introduce a new ranking system for its consumer information Web site and said all facilitiesnot just new onesmust have full sprinkler systems.
In a teleconference with reporters, acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems and Sens. Herbert Kohl (D-Wis.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) discussed details of the agencys new five-star ranking system of Americas nursing homes on its Nursing Home Compare site. Kohl, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said the new system will do two things: distill quality measures into a format that is easy for Americans to understand, and identify those homes that are offering the best care to those who need it. The CMS will solicit comments from the public, consumer groups and nursing homes during June and July, and Weems said the new rating system will be available in December.
In addition, the agency said the nations 16,000 nursing facilitieshome to about 3 million Americansmust install sprinkler systems in their buildings by 2013 if they wish to receive payment for serving Medicare beneficiaries. Previously, older facilities were exempt from this rule. (For a longer version of this story, please click here.) -- by Jessica Zigmond