Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a former chairman of the Special Committee on Aging and a long-time nursing home watchdog, has become the latest federal lawmaker to zero in on whether the federal government should track nursing home quality data.

In a sharply worded letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, Grassley asked whether nursing home quality data should be audited similar to staffing numbers under Payroll-Based Journaling.

The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman’s ire rises from the dozen-plus deaths that occurred at a Florida nursing home last year, along with one resident’s passing at the Timely Mission Nursing Home in Buffalo, IA. In the latter case, Grassley said, an elderly woman “passed away seemingly due to lapses in care by staff.” In both cases, he said, “These outcomes are unacceptable.”

“I remain concerned about CMS’s efforts to ensure quality nursing home care to our most vulnerable citizens,” Grassley wrote, noting that in order for enforcement systems to work, there must be “extensive communication and shared responsibility” between federal and state agencies.

Grassley pointed to a Government Accountability Office report, which noted CMS does not regularly audit quality data.

“Without sufficiently reliable reporting data it is difficult to ascertain the accuracy of government findings which, in turn, creates challenges to creating and implementing necessary policy fixes,” he wrote.

Grassley also posed several more questions to Verma, with an Oct. 3 deadline for response.Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also penned a similar letter in August on nursing home staffing and enforcement, and the Senate held a hearing earlier this month on those topics.