The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been making changes to the Nursing Home Compare website http://www.medicare.gov/ and is seeking comments from stakeholders and visitors to the site.
On April 23rd, CMS added information to allow consumers to more directly file complaints about nursing homes with State Survey Agencies. These changes include adding links from Nursing Home Compare to State complaint websites and making State phone numbers and fax numbers more prominent. They also added a standardized complaint form that consumers can use in cases where they prefer to submit a complaint by fax.
A more visible consumer rights section has been added that clearly spells out resident and consumer rights and provides more information about courses of action that consumers can take if they feel that their rights are being violated. This section also includes information on how to choose a nursing home and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.
In July, the number of substantiated complaints received and the number of enforcement actions (specifically Civil Money Penalties and Denials of Payment for New Admissions) that have been levied will be added.
CMS also in April “froze” quality measure data and the five star quality measure ratings currently on the website for a period of six months. Historically, CMS has updated quality measure data each quarter. However, new quality measure data are not yet available for display, so CMS will retain the current QM scores and star ratings until October 2011.
This is of course all good news for consumers as the mover for more transparency in health care and long term care continues.