National rankings put officials on hot seat

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National rankings put officials on hot seat
National rankings put officials on hot seat
Federal regulators have put themselves on the spot as a result of their new five-star rating system for nursing homes.

Originally announced in mid-June, the star ratings are to be devised and posted quickly on the “Nursing Home Compare” Web site ( starting in December, officials said.
They acknowledged, amid lengthy questioning from leery providers on a national conference call recently, that the methods and format of the ratings had yet to be formed.

Stakeholders are being solicited for comments, and will be included in a limited number of meetings, said Thomas Hamilton, director of the survey and certification group of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Among the issues to be worked out were how to make sure smaller facilities, which currently might not register on quality indicator scales, are fairly included; how hospital-based facilities would be factored in; and how consumer and staff satisfaction reports can be judged for validity.

Hamilton also clarified that only substantiated—not alleged —violations would be factored into any rankings. Rankings would be updated “at least quarterly” on a rolling basis, he added.