Troubling steps ahead for Nursing Home Compare?

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John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
Providers have decidedly mixed feelings about Nursing Home Compare, a government-run website that ranks facilities on a five-star scale. Those operators pulling down commendable scores tend to shout the good news from every available mountaintop. The others? Not so much.

But these days, it's not just nursing homes that the government is publicly grading. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has also set up comparison shopping sites for physicians, hospitals, home health agencies and even dialysis firms. Nothing wrong with that.

But a newly announced plan to mine data from Medicare Advantage plans might give many operators an unexpected spine shiver.

CMS will soon showcase the “best practices” that Medicare Advantage plans provide. From a care quality standpoint, it's hard to argue against such an initiative. And should a similar practice morph over to the Nursing Home Compare site, many providers might benefit.

But then again, if the government is going to point out the good examples, it's probably fair to wonder if the bad examples might not be far behind. And that's where things could get a smidge uncomfortable.

Would you like to have your facility held up as a place where notably poor care is delivered? Especially if the information used to create that picture was dated, or wrong?

It also makes one wonder how else CMS might decide to carve up and package the mountains of data it is now collecting on nursing homes.

Intel CEO Andrew Grove once famously said that you are not paranoid if the world is out to get you. CMS may not be out to get nursing homes. But there are probably more than a few bean counters in Washington that are still harboring a grudge.

The fact is, many people at CMS still believe that nursing home operators basically scammed the system out of $4 billion when the MDS 3.0 system was unveiled. I'm not saying they're right — I'm saying that's how they feel.

And if there is one thing any wronged person will make time for, it's payback. Even if it means setting a bad example.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.

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