The CMS announced Thursday that it would bolster the system it uses to hold nursing home inspectors accountable.
The agency said in a statement that it will carry out a number of changes to the State Performance Standards System (SPSS) to address concerns about infrequent and ill-timed nursing home inspections. The SPSS will update how it evaluates the performance of state survey agencies who actually inspect nursing homes, as well as update the SPSS assessment tools.
The changes are aimed to ensure that inspections are done correctly and on time, the agency said. They will also ensure that enforcement actions, including civil monetary penalties, are consistently applied.
"By holding inspectors accountable for conducting timely and consistent inspections, we're holding nursing homes accountable for providing safe, high-quality care—helping ensure safe nursing home environments," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.
Survey agencies will experience increased monitoring thanks to new metrics to make sure that states inspect nursing homes on time. The CMS will also review new state performance indicators each quarter to expose problems with nursing home inspections. Those reviews used to occur at the end of the fiscal year to evaluate how well states were inspecting nursing homes.
The agency will step up how it holds survey agencies accountable for their handling of "immediate jeopardy" situations, which are health and safety situations presenting a pressing danger.
The changes are one step in the agency's work to improve nursing home inspections. In the future, states may be allowed to determine how to address problems on their own and create specific plans to help the federal government identify low-performing survey agencies. The CMS also plans to increase states' access to centralized data so survey agencies can figure out how to meet federal mandates.
The Trump administration this month announced that it would make it easier for consumers to learn about nursing homes that have violated rules on abuse, neglect or exploitation through improvements to its Nursing Home Compare website. The website makes available detailed information about Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes in the U.S.