*BULLETIN: CMS to name more underperforming facilities*

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Reversing an earlier position, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will release the names of additional nursing facilities the government has identified as poor performers.

Federal officials said they will address the issue during a media briefing called for 3 p.m. (Eastern) today.

Controversy erupted shortly after CMS posted the names of only the 54 “worst” facilities on its Special Focus Facilities to its Web site in late November. The remaining 74 facilities on the list were released only to provider associations, and, in part, to various state health departments — only some of whom made their in-state names public.

McKnight's sources have indicated that the list has expanded beyond the 128 facilities originally selected. The Special Focus Facilities list includes those that have consistently performed the worst in inspections. While the list has existed for many years, the government first began publicly releasing some names on it late last year.

Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems, who has said he would have handled the release of the names differently, and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, will speak at this afternoon's briefing, officials indicated.

“Providing the public the names of underperforming nursing homes across the country builds upon the historic release by CMS of poorly performing nursing homes in November of 2007,” a statement released by CMS said this morning.

Provider advocates have defended receiving the list, and not naming all facilities on it. They say such actions can help them police their own, and also avoid spotlighting facilities that might have either just landed on the list or improved enough to be heading off it soon.