February 7, 2023
In this Issue:
- Advocates Send Letter to CMS in Support of Staffing Study and Their Plan to Propose Minimum Staffing Standard
- GAO Report Calls for Increased Transparency in Nursing Home Ownership
- Resources from CMS on End of Public Health Emergency Declarations
- Materials Available from Webinar on Using the Media to Raise Awareness of the Ombudsman Program
Advocates Send Letter to CMS in Support of Staffing Study and Their Plan to Propose Minimum Staffing Standard
Consumer Voice along with more than a dozen other advocacy organizations sent a letter to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), expressing strong support for the agency’s efforts to address the staffing crisis in nursing homes across the country. Almost one year ago, President Biden announced a historic set of nursing home reforms, one of which was a promise to implement a minimum staffing standard. Since that announcement, CMS has embarked upon a rigorous and fact-based approach to making this promise happen, including soliciting input from the public and conducting a study on the direct care needs of nursing home residents.
Implementing a minimum staffing standard would be the most significant increase in protections for nursing home residents in decades. Overwhelming evidence connects better health outcomes with higher staffing levels. While it is unclear when a minimum staffing standard will be proposed, we need to ensure the voices of residents, families, and workers are heard. We thank CMS for prioritizing the well-being of nursing home residents and look forward to working towards a staffing standard that protects all residents.
GAO Report Calls for Increased Transparency in Nursing Home Ownership
On Thursday, February 3, 2023, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report, "Nursing Homes: CMS Should Make Ownership Information More Transparent for Consumers,” finding fault with how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) currently provides information to consumers regarding nursing home ownership. The report noted that ample evidence demonstrated that different ownership types often lead to disparate health outcomes for nursing home residents. For instance, non-profit homes generally perform better on measures of quality than for-profit nursing homes. The GAO report acknowledged these differences in care quality and emphasized the importance of accurate and accessible ownership interests to consumers.
The report’s primary focus was on how CMS provides ownership information on its Care Compare website. Echoing concerns of Consumer Voice and other advocates, the GAO report found that CMS:
- Was not providing information in plain language with clear graphics
- Failed to organize information to highlight patterns
- Did not explain the purpose and value of ownership information on Care Compare
- Did not disclose the key strengths and limitations of the data
The GAO report made two recommendations:
- Use plain language to define key terms in the ownership section of Care Compare.
- Organize ownership information by providing consumers easy access to a list of all facilities under common ownership, their respective star ratings, and a distribution of star ratings across nursing homes with common ownership to allow consumers to examine quality patterns across such facilities.
Consumer Voice has long advocated for all consumers to have access to reliable and relevant ownership information for individual nursing homes with care quality information for all nursing homes under common ownership. When deciding on a nursing home, residents and their families must have access to ownership data that is reliable and accurate.
Resources from CMS on End of Public Health Emergency Declarations
On January 30, 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its intent to end the national emergency and public health emergency (PHE) declarations related to the COVID-19 pandemic on May 11, 2023. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has several resources available in preparation of the end of the PHE:
CMS will continue to update the CMS Emergencies Page as flexibilities enabled by the COVID-19 emergency declarations are winding down.
Materials Available from Webinar on Using the Media to Raise Awareness of Ombudsman Programs
Materials are available from the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC)'s recent webinar, "Communications & Media Relations to Raise Awareness of the Ombudsman Program." This webinar provided an overview of media relations, offered tips on how to respond to media inquiries to elevate the awareness of the Ombudsman program, and discussed how to successfully use social media and digital communication tools to engage targeted audiences to attract more volunteers and gain support for the system.
Watch the recording and get webinar materials.