Washington, D.C. — The American Health Care Association (AHCA) President and CEO Mark Parkinson today submitted a letter urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to change its new nursing home abuse alert icon on Nursing Home Compare (NHC) to improve the accuracy of information consumers receive to find the best nursing care for themselves and their loved ones. In the letter to Administrator Seema Verma, Parkinson writes:
“We agree with your efforts to increase transparency around this topic. We support greater transparency and efforts to help prevent any abuse or neglect from occurring. However, we have concerns with the icon selected for use and the accuracy of the data. These could have potential unintended effects of creating unnecessary worry and concern among residents and their families and decrease access to care if patients avoid without current significant problems that continue to have an icon suggesting consumers avoid the facility.
“The icon selected creates a strong visual recommendation “to stop and avoid” going to this nursing home. A red “stop sign” with a hand on it, is inconsistent with the message outlined in the press release that the information on the site should help “consumers develop a more complete understanding of a facility’s quality”. Such a symbol implies people should avoid the nursing home altogether rather than use the information as a warning or caution to investigate further as you point out in your example, “For example, a nursing home cited for an incident of abuse may have adequate staffing numbers and provide excellent dementia or rehabilitative care.” As such, we would request that the symbol be changed to be more in align with the goals of transparency and warning to consumers to gather additional information. We recommend using a symbol to suggest either “caution” or need to investigate further, as you might see on the roadway or as you do for Special Focus Facilities (SFF) (i.e., a yellow triangle with an exclamation point) would be more appropriate.
“If a facility has corrected the deficiencies that led to the citation and is back in substantial compliance with CMS regulations, the icon should be removed as it suggests an ongoing problem. If a facility has corrected the issue, keeping the icon on NHC seems confusing and inconsistent with transparency efforts. We recommend that the icon be removed after a re-visit by CMS or the state verifies that the facility is in compliance with CMS regulations.”
Read the complete letter here.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 13,700 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahca.org or www.ncal.org.