What GAO Found
In recent years, trends in four key sets of data that give insight into nursing home quality show mixed results, and data issues complicate the ability to assess quality trends. Nationally, one of the four data sets—consumer complaints—suggests that consumers’ concerns over quality have increased, while the other three data sets—deficiencies, staffing levels, and clinical quality measures—indicate potential improvement in nursing home quality. For example, the average number of consumer complaints reported per home increased by 21 percent from 2005-2014, indicating a potential decrease in quality. Conversely, the number of serious deficiencies identified per home with an on-site survey, referred to as a standard survey, decreased by 41 percent over the same period, indicating potential improvement. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) ability to use available data to assess nursing home quality is complicated by various issues with these data, which make it difficult to determine whether observed trends reflect actual changes in quality, data issues, or both. For example, clinical quality measures use data that are self-reported by nursing homes, and while CMS has begun auditing the self-reported data, it does not have clear plans to continue. Federal internal control standards require agencies to monitor performance data to assess the quality of performance over time.
Read the full release here: GAO Highlights