White House Announces Update of Nursing Home Five Star Ratings

On 10/06/14, the White House announced important changes to Medicare’s popular Nursing Home Compare website. Read Five Star article. Recently the web tool (formally known as “Five Star Quality Rating System for Nursing Homes”) has been criticized for relying heavily on data supplied by the homes themselves. Our answer “How do Five Star Nursing Homes Game the System” discusses a New York Times article on the subject.

The changes are meant to improve the reliability and utility of data available through Nursing Home Compare. The changes begin in January of 2015. They include:

  • Revising the five star scoring system to emphasize data “that is verified by independent sources rather than data that is self-reported by nursing homes;”
  • Taking steps to increase the chances of inspections of nursing homes being more timely and accurate;
  • Expanding the use of new “special inspections” to help better verify staffing and quality measures that are part of the Five Star Rating; and,
  • Using payroll information to verify staffing information.

We think these changes are a good “next step” to improving the Five Star rating system. As our population ages and problems continue in nursing homes, Nursing Home Compare’s Five Star rating system has become a tool that more and more people turn to. Unfortunately, many people rely on these rankings without understanding their problems and limitations. Not only do nursing homes “game the system” but too often people feel a false sense of security thinking that having their parent reside in a Five Star home is enough to protect them from neglect in nursing homes.
Read our updated 2/25/15 blog: Sweeping Changes to Nursing Home Five Star Ratings.

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