McKnights reported on Senator Ron Wyden’s letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma demanding answers on how the federal government plans to better hold nursing homes accountable for their conscious decision to short-staffing nursing homes. His concerns stemmed from the “upsetting” front-page New York Times article, published in July, which concluded that “payroll records provide the strongest evidence that, over the last decade, the government’s five-star rating system for nursing homes often exaggerated staffing levels.” Wyden noted in his letter that the healthcare system has evolved greatly in the decade since the rating system was established. He believes the federal government must do the same with how it measures nursing home quality.
Many staffing experts, nursing home advocates, and consumer groups are also concerned that the short-staffing causes poor quality of care and leads to neglect and abuse.
The senator also expressed concerns about info unearthed from Payroll-Based Journaling collections. Mainly that, 7 in 10 homes were found to have lower staffing using the new methods, with a 12% average decrease. “If true, it is concerning that seniors and their families have been receiving inaccurate or erroneous information about the staffing levels provided by a SNF.”
Wyden gave Verma an Aug. 24 due date to provide answers to the following valid questions:
1) What are the safeguards CMS has in place to ensure SNFs provide accurate information?
2) What is the difference in staffing levels between self-reported and payroll data methodologies?
3) What will the agency do if it finds self-reported data to be inaccurate?
4) Would CMS update staffing quality measures to account for inappropriate fluctuations in staffing? and
5) Would CMS consider measuring patient and family staff satisfaction as part of Five Star?