CMS to toughen website

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Federal regulators are undertaking major changes to the Nursing Home Compare website and will continue to do so for five more months, officials said.

As part of the process, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on April 23 began a six-month freeze of its Five Star Quality Ratings system and quality measure data. Regulators will be collecting quality measure data from the new MDS 3.0 resident assessment tool during that time.

The website, which was created to give consumers a place to compare nursing homes' performance, also will be updated to allow consumers to more easily file complaints against providers.

Links to state complaint websites will be included, while state fax and phone numbers will begin to appear more prominently.

CMS also will add a more visible “consumer rights” section to the website, and a standardized complaint form for those who wish to file a complaint by fax.

In another notable change, in July CMS will begin displaying information about the number of substantiated complaints it has received, and the number of enforceable actions, such as civil monetary penalties or denials of payment for new admission, that have been imposed.

Providers had lobbied against the posting of unsubstantiated claims.