Industry reaction has been mixed since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announcement last week that it will begin posting nursing home staff turnover rates and weekend staffing levels on the consumer-facing Medicare Care Compare site this month. 

The same information will then be incorporated into the public Five-Staring rating system in July. 

Many support making data accessible as an aspect of care that residents and their families should know about. 

But the timing of the decision “feels like a gut punch to nursing homes who are really struggling right now,” said David Grabowski, professor of healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School, during a LeadingAge call with industry stakeholders Wednesday.

He called on providers, however, to view the move as a positive development for the industry in the long run. Grabowski said the data could provide benefits such as shedding light on the fact that there aren’t staff available to work on the weekends, that turnover is high and that there’s a high use of contract nurses. That, in turn, could lead to policy changes.

“I do think longer term this data will add value and can serve as a signal to all of us that we need to invest more in direct care staff,” he said. “We get the turnover we pay for and since we aren’t paying enough, we’re seeing high turnover. That’s not something nursing homes can fix on their own. I really believe we need more reimbursement from Medicaid and Medicare to make that happen.”

Other industry associations agree that the decision’s timing is unfortunate given the ongoing challenges related to the pandemic. 

“While we support transparency and agree that staffing hours and turnover metrics are important, more reporting will not solve this issue,” the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living said in a statement to McKnight’s this week. “The addition of this reporting requirement when we are in the middle of the worst labor shortage the nursing home sector has ever faced is tone deaf. We need public health officials to do more than acknowledge these challenges, but stand up to address them. By offering funding and policy solutions that will help us attract and retain the caregivers we so desperately need, policymakers can ensure nursing home residents are well supported.”