More than 400 Special Focus Facility candidates should be highlighted on Nursing Home Compare, an advocate group said Tuesday. It reignited a firestorm that began last week when a pair of federal lawmakers made public a “secret” list of poor performers.
Up to 88 facilities out of nearly 16,000 nursing homes nationwide are listed as actual Special Focus Facilities on the government-run website for consumers. But in early June, Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) issued “Uncovering Poor Care in America’s Nursing Homes,” a report tackling challenges within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ SFF program.
The report caused a public sensation because it identified around 400 facilities considered SFF “candidates” due to “persistent record of poor care.” Since then, local news outlets have zeroed in on which facilities are severely struggling.
Frustrated providers have pointed out that much of the information about the troubled group of 400 is already available to the public. They also note that such lists sometimes unfairly portray facilities that could be substantially compliant or otherwise improving.
Kate Goodrich, M.D., Director, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality and CMS Chief Medical Office, has said the SFF “candidate” list will be posted but did not specify how or when. She also intimated that, like in previous years, more than 88 facilities could be placed on the actual SFF list if more oversight funding were available.
“Our organizations respectfully urge CMS to prominently identify when a nursing home is a SFF candidate on the facility’s Nursing Home Compare page,” the Centers for Medicare Advocacy said in its statement. “Given that SFF candidates have comparable quality and safety concerns — and are only absent from the [actual] SFF list due to a lack of resources allocated to provide for enhanced oversight — it is unconscionable not to properly alert the public when a facility has been identified as meeting the SFF criteria.”