The report is "one of the most damning reports on the nation’s nursing homes that I’ve seen in a long time" and "should be required reading for any family thinking of moving a relative to a nursing facility," Trudy Lieberman writes in "Thinking About Health" for the Rural Health News Service.
Nursing homes that score poorly in state inspections qualify for extra oversight under the federal Special Focus Facility program until their issues are resolved. Of the nearly 400 facilities that are candidates for the program, only 88 have been selected as participants because of limited resources at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But even though candidates are indistinguishable from participants in terms of quality, the list of candidates is not published. "As a result, individuals and families making decisions about nursing home care for themselves or for a loved one are unlikely to be aware of these candidates," the report says.
They may not be aware of the Special Focus participants, either. "The names on the participant list are public, but . . . CMS doesn’t make it easy to identify them," Lieberman writes. "On the CMS website these problematic facilities are not given star ratings as are most other facilities. Instead they are designated with a small yellow triangle that looks like a caution traffic sign."