Computer problems delaying new MDS 3.0 timeline, regulators say

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Providers worried about last week's abrupt posting and withdrawal of a MDS 3.0 form timeline can rest easy, federal regulators assured Thursday during a Skilled Nursing Facilities/Long-Term Care Open Door Forum conference call.

"It's much more of a computer glitch than anything else," said an official from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In fact, the new timeline "will have the same look and feel of the previous one we posted" before the planned implementation kick-off was pushed from October 2009 to October 2010 in March. Providers anxious about the possible effects and training demands of the new Minimum Data Set (MDS) version saw a new timeline posted for just a matter of hours on the CMS Web site last week before regulators pulled it off. As of Thursday, the entire MDS 3.0 Web page was down due to technical issues, CMS officials said.

"I suspect we should have something up by early next week," said Mary Pratt, director of the Division of Post Acute & Chronic Care in CMS' Quality Measurement and Health Assessment Group to nearly 500 listeners at the monthly Open Door Forum.

Pratt said the timeline will show new information, including that data specifications for all of the pieces of MDS 3.0 and the resident assessment instrument manual will be published in October. A training schedule also will be included; "train the trainer" materials should be ready by next February or March, she added. Additional training beyond that time frame will be in June "and probably August 2010, as we get closer the actual implementation date."