Five-star nursing home rating system kicks off with controversy

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AAHSA President and CEO Larry Minnix
AAHSA President and CEO Larry Minnix
The head of one provider organization reacted negatively Wednesday to the way the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has handled the launch of a new five-star rating system for nursing homes. The program is scheduled to launch today.  

Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, shared some harsh words about the new system in an e-mail to members Wednesday entitled "A Five-Star Travesty of Justice, Poorly Implemented." Minnix said the new system is "based on significantly flawed and inadequate information that has stacked the public relations deck against nursing homes."

He said that CMS shared the entire database of five-star ratings days to the national media and state survey agencies days in advance of providers receiving their individual facility data. He also expressed disappointment with other CMS policies and remaining flaws in the way nursing homes are rated.

"The Five-Star system is reflective of the way CMS has increasingly done business recently," he wrote. "Its ethos of working with providers has changed, in my experience, from collaborative and transparent to a heavy-handed compulsion to cram good, yet poorly executed ideas down our throats in the waning days of this administration."

CMS will hold a telephone press conference today at 11 a.m. EST about the program. Under the system, nursing homes will be rated based on three key aspects: health inspection performance, staffing levels and the facility's score on a 10-point quality review. CMS will then post the nursing home ratings on its Web site, www.medicare.gov/nhcompare.

The rating system will go from a high of five stars or "much above average," four stars for "above average," three for "about average," two for "below average" and one for "much below average." CMS officials expect the rankings to be updated at least quarterly.

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