Report shows improvement, but agency has some doubts

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) requested the GAO report. It urges more nursing home oversight.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) requested the GAO report. It urges more nursing home oversight.

Nursing home operators received good marks in a recent General Accountability Office report, if they're to be believed. The numbers, that is.

GAO investigators used the report, “Nursing Home Quality: CMS Should Continue to Improve Data and Oversight,” to explain that providers seemed to be improving in four of five areas studied.

It also used the report to criticize the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for using too much provider-supplied information and not better assessing performances.

Consumer complaints was providers' worst category, according to the report: Complaints rose 21% over the decade ending 2014.

At the same time, the number of serious deficiencies cited per facility dropped 41%. 

The numbers for overall nurse staffing hours per resident day also improved. They rose in all but one state, for an overall climb of 9% from 2009 to 2014. That included a 51% rise in registered nurse time (0.5 hours per day to 0.8 hours).

As for quality measures, nursing homes' scores showed improvement in all eight areas spot-checked from 2011 to 2014. State-by-state results were listed for all areas.

The investigators noted, however, that discrepancies in findings “make it difficult to determine whether observed trends reflect actual changes in quality, data issues, or both.”