A new government report is calling on CMS to “quickly” implement recommendations made by a federal nursing home commission. The Government Accountability Office released the new report. The report details “urgent actions needed” by the federal government to ensure an effective COVID-19 response. Many could save tens of thousands of live sin the next 6 months.
The Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes issued a report in September. The expert report contained 27 key recommendations. These actions would save lives. Most would help providers and public health officials prevent spread in their nursing homes.
The commission’s suggestions centered around testing, personal protective equipment, visitation and staffing. Specific recommendations to immediately develop and execute a national strategy for testing with rapid results still need to be done. Other recommendations to provide training, guidance and policy are needed. The biggest effect on quality of care is to address the differences in nursing home resources and increasing staffing to safe levels.
All of this should have been done six months ago.
CMS will also resume calculating nursing homes’ health inspection ratings starting on Jan. 27, 2021, the agency announced in a memo last week. CMS will rate facilities from findings from the “focused infection control inspections” during 2020. Those ratings will be included in the same way findings from complaint inspections are used in the Five Star Quality Rating System. The agency will also update quality measures on the Nursing Home Compare site.
“Since nursing homes have continued to submit MDS data, the data can be used to update quality measures without any issues. We have also analyzed the data used to support the claims-based quality measures, and similarly, see no issues updating these measures,” the agency wrote. “Therefore, the quality measures posted on the Nursing Home Compare website and used in the Five Star Quality Rating System will be updated on January 27, 2021.”
CMS finally allowed inspectors to resume all regular survey activities if they have enough staff members and personal protective equipment to do so. Most did not have adequate supplies and could not resume inspections. CMS had previously suspended certain routine inspections during the pandemic.