Executives share a handshake

Federal regulators has begun posting nursing home affiliations on Nursing Home Care Compare in an attempt to make it easier for consumers to see related facilities and understand their overall performance, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Wednesday.

In addition to linking facilities by common owners, the agency will post aggregate nursing home performance data on data.cms.gov and publish combined inspection, staffing, quality and other metrics across groups of nursing homes that share owners or operators.

The news was reported in a memo sent to state survey agency directors. The data went live Wednesday, as well.

It was painted as the next phase in a multi-step process to bring increased transparency to the sector, whose owners and investors have been targeted by the Biden Administration since early 2022.

“As part of CMS’s commitment to transparency, our goal is to provide consumers with as much information about nursing homes as possible to support their healthcare decisions,” the agency wrote Wednesday. “Allowing consumers to see information about a nursing home’s affiliated entities directly on Nursing Home Care Compare supports our initiative to promote data transparency and dissemination, and allows consumers and their caregivers to make more informed decisions about their care.”

The agency will publish affiliated entity names and affiliated entity identification numbers for each facility on Nursing Home Care Compare. It defined affiliated entities as groups of nursing homes sharing at least one individual or organizational owner, officer or entity with operational/managerial control.

The ownership data will be pulled from the Provider Enrollment, Chain, and Ownership System, or PECOS, the electronic Medicare enrollment system.

The performance data will include averages of ratings for the overall, inspection, staffing, and quality measure star ratings, staffing measures, quality measures, select enforcement remedies imposed, percent of facilities for-profit and not-for-profit, number of Special Focus Facilities and COVID-19 vaccination rates, CMS said.

While skilled nursing providers have bristled at some transparency changes, consumer advocates have argued that consumers are often unable to identify facilities under the same corporate structure. While the new groupings may allow Care Compare users to more easily reject facilities owned by a company they see as low-quality, it could also allow them better ability to identify those linked with an organization whose reputation they trust.

CMS has set up an email for providers who believe their affiliation information is incorrect. Changes or updated can requested at [email protected].

Accuracy and timeliness of the data could be a concern, given that skilled nursing facilities can change owners frequently. A Genesis Healthcare-branded building in Southeastern Pennsylvania, for instance, comes up as belonging to HCR ManorCare, although HCR ManorCare went bankrupt and sold most of its buildings to ProMedica and Welltower in 2018, before some of those assets were bought by Genesis earlier this year.

This is a developing story. Check back for more details