Lawmakers demand 'secret' nursing home rankings see daylight

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Following a bombshell report released earlier this week, federal lawmakers are demanding that the Department of Veterans Affairs release once-hidden information about care quality at its nursing homes.

VA officials have tracked detailed quality and safety measures at its nursing homes for years, yet they have kept the information private, USA Today and the Boston Globe reported. Roughly half of the VA facilities, almost 60, received the agency's lowest ranking out of five stars as of the end of last year, the newspapers reported Sunday.

Following that exposé, several members of Congress are demanding that the VA release all data tied to the care provided at its homes, USA Today wrote Wednesday.

“Widespread underperformance at VA nursing homes is a betrayal of veterans' trust and wellbeing,” Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in the story. “VA concealing this data from the public until news stories were about to be filed makes matters infinitely worse and is nothing more than fake transparency.”

Others joining that chorus included Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA). A bipartisan group of House members from Florida also wrote a letter to the VA this week, calling for improved care at local VA homes.

VA committees in both the House and Senate are planning to meet with officials from the department later this week. The press secretary for the VA, meanwhile, downplayed the reports, calling them “the definition of fake news,” while declining to answer questions about why the data hasn't been released, USA Today reported Wednesday.