OIG: Medicare spent billions on subpar nursing home care

Medicare paid billions to nursing homes that were not meeting the basic requirements for caring for their patients, the Associated Press reported.

As the result of a recent audit, the Department of Health & Human Services' Office of the Inspector General concluded that 37 percent of Medicare patient stays were at skilled nursing facilities (SNF) that offered care that did not meet the program's quality-of-care requirements or the care was not administered according to plans, according to the report.

Altogether, the Medicare program spent $5.1 billion on SNF care during 2009 that was substandard or not properly planned, the Associated Press reported. Medicare spent $32 billion spent on SNF services altogether in fiscal 2012, according to the OIG.

"Spending taxpayers' money on facilities that provide poor care is unacceptable," Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Aging, told the wire service. "The government must do a better job of ensuring Medicare beneficiaries receive the highest quality of care."

However, the American Health Care Association, the primary trade group for skilled nursing facilities, said the report was too narrow, according to the AP.

"We wish the OIG report had broadened its focus to look more at health outcomes, for when one uses CMS's own data on other quality measures, skilled nursing centers are trending toward better, not worse, health results," AHCA spokesman Greg Crist told AP.

To learn more:
- read the Associated Press article
- read the OIG spotlight article
- read the OIG report (.pdf)