CMS to update 'worst' nursing home list quarterly, list all names

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CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems
CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems
All nursing homes on a federal watch list for poor performing facilities will now be publicized on a government Web site, Bush administration officials announced Tuesday.

The policy switch comes after an initial uproar when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the names of only the 54 worst performers (of a list of 128) in November. But the new policy comes caveats providers should like: List members will be categorized as to whether they are new to the list, improving or not improving.

Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems disclosed at a special media briefing Thursday that the “Special Focus Facilities” list had actually grown to 131 nursing homes with poor survey records. The list will continually be in flux, noting the next public update will be in April.

In response to a McKnight's reporter's question, Weems also clarified that from now on providers would be given brief advance notice of their inclusion on the dubious list but no others would learn of list contents until results are refreshed online. When CMS went public for the first time ever, but with just the partial list, in November, consumer advocates loudly complained that nursing home lobbyists and associations had been given the full list, while the general public had not.

Weems said that 21 of the 54 homes initially named in November had shown improvement on their most recent inspections, but he said it was not clear whether the increased publicity had pumped up the “improved” rate.

To view the current SFF list, visit http://www.cms.hhs.gov/CertificationandComplianc/Downloads/SFFList.pdf.