HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra

Federal regulators took their campaign to make nursing home ownership more transparent to a new level Monday, and providers responded by urging the administration to do even more to reform a “broken system.”

The new data release is meant primarily to help government agencies and researchers. It also will be accessible to consumers when the Care Compare website is updated Wednesday.

LeadingAge, an association of nonprofit organizations, reiterated past support for more transparent information about ownership structures. But it also said the administration needs to repair other parts of the system and support operators better.

“We emphasize to Congress and the Administration the need to take responsible action toward broader change,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan in a statement emailed to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Monday. “Nursing homes, regardless of ownership, are all saddled with operating in the same broken system, with greater demand for care, for funding and other resources. 

“It’s time to fix our country’s broken system of financing, oversight and support for nursing homes,” she added.

On Monday, the nation’s largest nursing home association reissued a statement it first sent out five months ago when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it would be publicly airing more ownership information. The association said it supports financial transparency efforts and the distribution of such information to the public but it also shifted responsibility to its federal overseers.

“As we seek to better understand the potential impact of nursing home ownership trends, we must also consider how the chronic underfunding of long-term care interplays with the financial decisions nursing home providers may feel pressured to make,” said the American Health Care Association once again Monday. 

LeadingAge’s Sloan noted that her nonprofit members already disclose significant amounts of ownership and operating information by filing federal Form 990 tax documents. As a result, her group strongly endorses “financial transparency and open communication.”

“Our country’s 15,000 nursing home providers are not all the same and reform must reinforce quality and address those homes that will not or have not improved quality. All homes must be quality homes,” she added. 

The comments were largely in response to stronger scrutiny that federal regulators had mapped out. That movement started with the administration’s issuance of a 21-point nursing home reform plan Feb. 28, followed by President Biden’s calling out of some nursing home owners in his first State of the Union address the next night.

The new data, to be posted at data.cms.gov and updated monthly, will allow “an enhanced ability to identify common owners of nursing homes across nursing home locations,” CMS officials said in making their announcement Monday afternoon.

CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure called it a “major step forward in improving transparency in healthcare,” while her boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Beccera, said regulators were taking “unprecedented steps to deliver on [Biden’s] call to action.”