Hearing, GAO report delve into nursing homes' quality problems

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The long-term care industry is still grappling with a House hearing criticizing nursing home quality and a report on problematic nursing home inspections that was released in conjunction with last Thursday's hearing.

The House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing examined the effects private-equity ownership and inspections problems on the quality of care for residents, Congressional Quarterly reported. The hearing delved into the complicated ownership structure of private equity firms, which makes it difficult for consumers to know owners and operators.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Kerry Weems at the hearing said his organization would try to increase the amount of information in the CMS database “Pecos” to include nursing home ownership information for every Medicare nursing home in the country, the news outlet said. Weems also said he would try to link the information from “Pecos” to the Nursing Home Compare Web site, combining ownership information with quality-of-care information.

Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office's report found that federal inspectors failed to notice serious quality-of-care violations in at least 15% of nursing homes nationwide, and up to 25% of nursing homes in Alabama, Arizona, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming.

The full GAO report is now available to the public at http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-517.