CMS conducting 'comprehensive review' of nursing home oversight processes following GAO report

Editors note: This story has been corrected to reflect that it was the U.S. Government Accountability Office which released a report on Monday regarding CMS oversight of nursing home investigations in Oregon.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is undertaking a comprehensive review of its regulations and processes when it comes to ensuring safety and quality in nursing homes, CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced on Monday.

The announcement came the same day the Government Accountability Office released a report saying CMS needs to do more to address gaps in federal oversight of nursing home investigations in Oregon.

CMS contracts with state agencies, known as survey agencies, to investigate abuse allegations. That information is used for its oversight and is made available to the public through its website Nursing Home Compare.

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But auditors found that in Oregon, an agency that was not the key survey agency led crucial nursing home abuse allegations for more than 15 years. That means CMS did not get information from those investigations, and that information was not made available to the public.

The GAO offered three recommendations: CMS should evaluate state survey agency processes in all states to ensure they are meeting federal requirements, and it should identify options for capturing information from Oregon's investigations of complaints of incidents of abuse and incorporate this information into oversight of Oregon nursing homes. They also recommended CMS should alert consumers to the missing Oregon data on the CMS site.2

In an online statement, Verma defended the actions CMS has already been taking with regard to nursing home quality.

She also said her team has begun executing a five-point plan, including strengthening its oversight of nursing homes and improving enforcement of quality and safety policies by nursing homes. 

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