The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced in September that it would be making a slew of new data related to nursing homes available to the public for the first time.
The American government wants people to have a better grasp of what nursing homes are like, how safe and up-to-code they may be and to shine a light on the lacking sectors so that they may be held accountable.
Specifically, this novel push involves giving a better view of the ownership and operation of every nursing home certified for Medicare.
While this act may sound big and ominous, what this means is that licensing officials, law enforcement, researchers and even the general public now have a better way of discerning who owns which nursing home locations. This information can then be combined with other data sets in order to figure out which names are connected to top-tier facilities and which names tend to keep showing up among the boards of poorly-performing homes.
This step is being promoted as yet another way for the Biden administration to fulfill its action plan of improving the safety and quality of care for seniors living in nursing homes. It is also being carried out by HHS and CMS in acknowledgement of the president’s executive order to promote competition in businesses. President Biden created a Competition Council within the government with Xavier Becerra serving as its secretary.
Secretary Becerra actually made a statement on the endeavor. In his address, Becerra expressed a willingness to assist the president in upping the quality of care provided by American nursing homes by taking steps that have never been made in prior administrations. Becerra agreed that every family wants to know that their loved ones are truly being cared for and not just being shown a whitewashed experience during their visits to those facilities.
Becerra finished by reiterating that HHS is looking to make data available to the public so that it can bring more researchers, regulators and loved ones onto the same page of nursing home operations.
CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure then joined in to share what her department had to say on the matter. Brooks-LaSure echoed the sentiment that this data set marks a major improvement in giving transparency to the healthcare industry. She also affirmed that various research facilities and departments can gain a better idea of the relationship between a nursing home’s ownership and the level of care administered to its residents.
This announcement marks yet another layer on the foundational data set CMS released earlier in April 2022. That prior release of information came after Biden’s State of the Union address and contained the unprecedented details of every merger, acquisition, consolidation or other change of ownership among hospitals and Medicare-enrolled nursing homes from 2016 to 2022.
This newest batch of information features a more detailed breakdown of the ownership of roughly 15,000 nursing homes that have been certified as a Medicare Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), no matter which person or organization happened to own them.
In one instance, this expanded data set breaks down details regarding each organization owner, including whether the name belongs to a holding company or consulting firm.
CMS has also offered several key pieces of information that indicate groups of nursing homes that happen to sit under the same umbrella of owners or managers. The logic goes that just because a certain individual seems to keep showing up among under-performing facilities with various violations and fines, that individual’s name might actually be involved with even more facilities but they do so under the name of one or more conglomerates or other corporate business “organisms.”
This newest health data set will be available to the public online at data.cms.gov and updated on a monthly basis.
While the information is primarily meant for researchers and agencies within each state and at the federal level, this new data can be viewed by any consumer through a link on the “Care Compare” section of the official Medicare website.
But because looking at reams and reams of statistical data can be daunting, CMS intends to discuss ways to gain a clearer idea of how best to inform the general public about nursing home ownership with consumers. One end goal here is that consumers can then make the best decision when it comes to choosing a facility for themselves or their loved ones.