Providers should expect 'disruption' but are ready for Five Star changes, Parkinson says

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Coming changes to the Five Star rating system for nursing homes will “cause some disruption,” but many long-term care providers already are on track, according to American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living President and CEO Mark Parkinson.

“It's not like we're starting from zero,” Parkinson said, crediting the AHCA Quality Initiative with getting providers on the right path. He spoke on camera with McKnight's at this week's AHCA/NCAL annual convention in Washington, D.C.

While the convention was taking place, the White House announced that the Five Star nursing home ratings will begin to include additional measures, including facilities' rate of antipsychotic use, rehospitalizations and staff turnover. These are metrics that many providers already have been improving, Parkinson noted.

He spoke with McKnight's one day after attending the White House signing ceremony for the IMPACT Act. He said the law should help skilled nursing facilities show that they achieve similar outcomes as higher-cost settings.

McKnight's also interviewed Clif Porter, AHCA's top lobbyist, and Cynthia Morton, executive vice president of the National Association for the Support of Long-Term Care. Both spoke about the IMPACT Act.

Porter said that the bill's passage shows that “Washington can work.” It was passed because all the stakeholders “literally got in a room” and made sure that everyone's interests were represented in the legislation, he said. Morton emphasized that the law mandates more electronic data sharing, and so will “catapult” the sector toward electronic health record adoption and interoperability.

Other issues of concern to providers continue to be thorny, largely due to cost issues, Porter explained. It's difficult to determine how to pay for a permanent “doc fix” or observation stay reform, but AHCA is “still addressing these issues,” he said.

Morton encouraged providers to work with their technology vendors and pharmacies in advance of a Nov. 1 deadline for new e-prescribing requirements. And she shared an update on the pause in Recovery Audit Contractor activity.

“We've received informal information that the RAC pause that we're under right now may continue indefinitely, at least until the CMS officials can brief us, probably in November,” she said.