Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)

Federal regulators need to collect nursing home staffing data directly from payroll systems rather than from providers themselves, members of the Congressional Seniors Task Force said in a recent letter to a top healthcare official.

The correspondence followed a scathing New York Times story that challenged the government’s Five Star rating system for facilities. Two of the program’s three components — staffing levels and quality indicators — are self-reported, the newspaper noted. As a result, high ratings may seem questionable. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the 50 facilities on a federal watch list hold four- or five-star ratings for their staff levels and quality statistics, the paper found.

“I authored the provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires nursing home staffing information be based on actual payroll data — ensuring that the information is accurate,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).