Feds Release New Tougher Nursing Home Standards—Ratings Drop

Nursing Home Ratings in Need of an Overhaul

In 2009, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created a rating system to help consumers choose safe and trustworthy nursing homes. Within 5 years, the rating system became the premier way that potential clients chose nursing homes—but the rating system was not without its critics. Some felt that it was far too easy for nursing homes to report embellishments or falsehoods about their quality without any government auditing.

In response, the nursing home five-star rating system was overhauled in January 2015 (and is continually being updated) with the implementation of new federal quality standards guidelines. These new guidelines are in place to counter the inflated rating system, which previously saw 80% of nursing homes receiving a rating of either 4 or 5 stars. This was prevalent, even when care standards varied widely between states.

The main reason for the inflated ratings was that the 5-star system relied on self-reporting for two of the most vital factors: staffing levels and quality statistics. Prior to 2014, a nursing home could report whatever it wanted about its own staffing numbers or statistics without oversight. Those days are over—and the number of nursing homes that have since seen a drop in their ratings is staggering.

Now, the number of nursing homes with 4-star ratings or higher?

Closer to 35%.

Nearly a Third of All Nursing Home Rankings Drop

Thousands of nursing care homes across the country have lost one or more of their existing stars. Less than three percent dropped more than two stars, one of which being the Claremont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Carlisle PA. The Claremont saw their 5-star rating drop to a 2-star rating overnight.

One hospital administrator there noted that although the rating changed overnight, the level of care did not.

While it’s true that the Claremont was told about some problems found during an inspection in December, the issues have since been resolved. The problem is, their rating will not be readdressed until the hospital is reevaluated by the Health Department in 2016.

A primary reason for the star drop is that the quality ratings have been changed to fit a curve. In other words, the top 10% of nursing homes receive a 5-star rating, the bottom 20% receive a 1-star rating, and 70% of remaining homes are divided between 2-star, 3-star, and 4-star ratings. The curve is adapted to each state’s standards, so a 3-star nursing home in Pennsylvania might rank as well as 5-star in Maine, or vice versa.

Compare Nursing Homes Online offers an online tool for comparing information about nursing homes. The comparison tool is only for nursing homes that are certified to participate in Medicare or Medicaid. The site also lists the ranking criteria being used in the new quality rankings.

Help for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse or Elder Neglect

Nursing homes are entrusted to provide care for our elderly loved ones, but unfortunately, we see too many cases of elder neglect and nursing home abuse. Tragically, many of these cases go unreported for a length of time because patients may be threatened or simply too vulnerable to fight for themselves. Tougher standards put in place by the federal government are meant to provide a more accurate means of making an informed decision about which nursing home or care facility you choose for your loved one(s). As experienced nursing home abuse attorneys, Handler Henning & Rosenberg is in favor of this new rating system.

Our team is here to help your family by fighting for your loved one’s rights to compensation. Contact us today for a free case evaluation about your rights.


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