OIG Finds Shortcomings in CMS Use of Nursing Home Staffing Data
Posted on March 17, 2021 by Jonathan Lips
In response to an evaluation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG), CMS stated last week that it will continue working to publicly report on nurse staff turnover and tenure, as required by federal law.
The OIG’s role includes oversight activities to promote effective implementation of Medicare programs and regulations. Last week OIG released a study titled CMS Use of Data on Nursing Home Staffing: Progress and Opportunities To Do More. A summary is available on the OIG’s website.
CMS began updating staffing information on Nursing Home Compare in 2018 and recently moved these data to a new website, called Care Compare, that contains the same staffing information for consumers that Nursing Home Compare did. The purpose of the OIG’s study was to evaluate the usefulness of this information to consumers.
While acknowledging the workload of COVID, OIG recommended four actions by CMS: (1) provide data to consumers on nurse staff turnover and tenure, as required by Federal law; (2) ensure the accuracy of non-nurse staffing data used on Care Compare; (3) consider residents' level of need when identifying nursing homes for weekend inspections; and (4) take additional steps to strengthen oversight of nursing home staffing.
CMS agreed with all four of these recommendations. In response to the first recommendation, CMS stated that it will continue working to publicly report on nurse staff turnover and tenure and that it has prioritized efforts on turnover data more highly than data on nurse tenure.
Care centers can rest assured that nothing in this report announces any changes to Care Compare or to the Five-Star program, and it will be some time yet before CMS completes that work. But the release of this report is notable, and provides a status report on how CMS – and state agencies – currently utilize staffing data and how they may use it in the future.