From the Dallas Morning News comes an article about changes to Medicare’s rating system of nursing homes. In an effort to simplify the Web site, Medicare will go to a “Five-Star” ratings code. Here are excerpts from the article:
The site – www.medicare.gov/nhcompare – now draws 1.3 million page views each month, but consumer advocates complain that users must pore over confusing statistics to check on nursing homes.
Under the new rating system, nursing homes will receive one to five stars based on recent inspection results, staffing levels and a number of quality measures yet to be determined, said acting Medicare administrator Kerry Weems.
“Our goal is to take information already available to the public and present it in a format that’s easier for people to use,” he said.
Medicare officials say the star ratings will also call attention to underperforming facilities and prod them to do better.
Suzanna Swanson, director of the nursing home ombudsman program in Dallas County, said she expects Medicare’s improved site will appeal to baby boomers, who are turning to the Internet to search for nursing homes for their parents.
“Though there’s no substitute for actually visiting the nursing homes and talking with the ombudsmen who keep an eye on them, the Web is one place to begin identifying your options,” she said.
A growing number of Internet sites list nursing homes and their services, but few review facilities and even fewer compare and rank them.
The best known in Texas is the state Department of Aging and Disability Services’ site – http://facilityquality.dhs.state.tx.us.