An online resource, Nursing Home Compare given by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), enables consumers to research and compare nursing homes by utilizing a rating system. Although, an audit by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has discovered that while the website is useful it lacks important information like consumer satisfaction scores.
The report concludes, “Nursing home selection can be annoying and time-sensitive procedure, so these are significant tools that CMS makes available to the public. Although, our review discovered opportunities for betterment or improvement in both the website and the ratings”.
Almost 16,000 nursing homes in United States participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs gives care to 1.4 million Americans yearly—a number that is hoped to increase as baby boomers age. CMS established Nursing Home Compare to help consumers in finding and comparing nursing homes deployed on a five-star quality system in order to help the growing population of seniors in need of such services.
Particularly, the various factors were founded by GAO inhibiting the capability of the rating system to assist users understand nursing home quality and select between high- and low- performing homes—which is the main aim that CMS is attempting to acquire.
In accordance to auditors, the “ratings weren’t developed to compare nursing homes nationally, restricting the capability of the rating system to help consumers who live near state borders or have multistate options.” Moreover, the GAO summarized that the rating system “doesn’t involve consumer satisfaction survey information, leaving consumers to make nursing home decisions without this significant information.”
GAO made 4 suggestions to CMS on how it can make better the Nursing Home Compare website and make it a better tool for customers:
In accordance to its written comments, CMS agreed with 3 of the GAO’s four suggestions but didn’t accept to add national comparison information to the Nursing Home Compare website. The agency explained that due to the state variation in the execution of standard surveys, it is tough to compare homes nationally on the health inspection component. It also pointed out that the five-star system is merely one of several factors customers should use when choosing a nursing home.
Although, GAO asserts that this information is significant and should be included.