CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure (center) speaks with Illinois leaders and nursing home workers during a roundtable discussion in Chicago on Wednesday. Credit: SEIU/Twitter

CHICAGO — More transparency and accountability of nursing homes owners will remain a top focus for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as it implements reforms in the coming year, according to the agency’s top official.

CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure stressed the agency’s position during a roundtable discussion with Illinois state officials and caregivers a few hours after it released new data on nursing home ownership for the first time Wednesday morning. 

Caregivers and nursing home workers called for staffing solutions to address shortages, including better pay and benefits. They also argued that more transparency of ownership provides for better accounting of revenue spending. 

“We’ve heard a couple of comments about ownership and one of the things that we are really focused on is more transparency and how the dollars are being spent and making sure we know what’s happening in terms of who needs to be held responsible for issues,” Brooks-LaSure said during the event. 

“What we are seeing is a tremendous amount of change in the industry and we want to better highlight what’s happening there,” she added. 

CMS has a “long history” of making data more transparent to help shape future policies, said Jonathan Blum, CMS’ principal deputy administrator and COO. 

“[Transparency] changes behavior, it changes how the industry talks to us but also [how it] talks to states,” Blum said. “I think this is a huge commitment towards us wanting to get better information to help inform policy and also help the public demand better answers about their tax dollars being spent.” 

Brooks-LaSure said CMS’ plan is to take the lessons learned from stakeholders across the country, like the discussion Wednesday, to help put a “different face” on the policy issue.