CMS announced several updates to Nursing Home Compare (NHC) that will take place this April, including a removal of the freeze placed on health inspection star ratings instituted in February 2018. The freeze was placed to give all facilities a chance to be surveyed at least once under the new process. Beginning in April, consumers will be able to see the most up-to-date status of a facility’s compliance on NHC.
Additionally, CMS will automatically assign a one-star staffing rating to facilities that report no RN is onsite beginning in April. “Currently, facilities that report seven or more days in a quarter with no registered nurse onsite are automatically assigned a one-star staffing rating. In April 2019, the threshold for the number of days without an RN onsite in a quarter that triggers an automatic downgrade to one-star will be reduced from seven days to four days,” says CMS.
The agency also intends to improve NHC’s ability to “identify differences in quality among nursing homes, raise expectations for quality, and incentivize continuous quality improvement.”
Measures of long-stay hospitalizations and emergency room transfers will also be added, and duplicative and less meaningful measures will be removed. CMS is also establishing separate quality ratings for short-stay and long-stay residents and revising the rating thresholds.