GAO: Actual number of troubled nursing homes much higher than thought

In theory, CMS has a program in place that is supposed to find nursing homes whose living conditions aren't adequate. A new report from the Government Accountability Office, however, concludes that the CMS program is missing hundreds of homes that are among the worst-performing homes in the U.S.

Right now, CMS targets one to six nursing homes per state that are performing badly, naming them as 'special focus facilities,' and subjecting them to more-frequent inspections. However, according to GAO investigators, there are actually four times as many homes that should be subject to 'special focus' rules.

Senate Aging Committee chair Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) is arguing that the GAO's report proves that the 'special focus' program needs a big expansion. In fact, that idea has been on the table since the GAO recommended a beefed-up inspection program two years ago. However, CMS has said that it doesn't have the resources to do more inspections.

To learn more about the special focus program:
- read this Associated Press item
- here's the GAO report

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