PHCA Responds to CMS Rollout of “Do Not Proceed” Icon
New icon to put a stop to valuable care conversations, family involvement in decision-making process
HARRISBURG — Zach Shamberg, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA), issued the following statement in response to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plan to institute a new alert icon into its Nursing Home Compare website:
Making the decision to admit a loved one into a nursing facility – a parent, grandparent, family member or friend – can be one of the toughest decisions any of us will ever have to make.
When it comes to finding the right nursing facility, we at PHCA have always encouraged families to visit the facility for themselves, speak with residents and their families and ask questions of the staff to aid them in their decision-making process. In fact, even CMS recommends families visit nursing homes of interest to learn about them and see the quality of care residents receive before making a final decision.
Yesterday’s decision by CMS to highlight facilities on the Nursing Home Compare website cited for isolated incidents of abuse and/or neglect by including a red alert icon will put an end to firsthand research. It will put a stop to valuable care conversations. In some cases, it may place an undue burden on families who now believe access to compassionate, quality care is not available close to home in those facilities.
Additionally, this change will further stigmatize our facilities and caregivers, while emboldening predatory law firms who will view these new alert icons as invitations to file lawsuits, requiring facilities to focus their limited resources on legal battles instead of quality care.
Incidents of abuse and neglect are, in many cases, not reflective of systematic process failures of a facility. To penalize that facility with an icon that screams ‘Don’t send your loved one here!’ contradicts the necessity for visits, questions and firsthand research.
The statement was first featured in the Central Penn Business Journal article, Nursing home rating website to spotlight abuse citations. The full article is below:
Nursing homes that have been cited by the state for abusing, neglecting or exploiting their residents will receive an icon beside their name in a national rating system for nursing homes.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency that oversees the Medicare program and helps states administer Medicaid, announced this month that it will make it easier for consumers to see what nursing homes have received abuse citations.
The agency, known as CMS, plans to institute a new alert icon into its Nursing Home Compare website. Nursing Home Compare ranks nursing homes based on their staffing levels, health inspections and quality of care.
Under the program, which takes effect on Oct. 23, alert icons will appear next to the name of any facility cited for harming a resident in the past year, or cited for potentially harmful abuse of a resident in the last two years.
While users of the website could previously find information on any facility’s history of abuse, the agency wrote in a press release that the new alert icon is meant to increase transparency and make the information easier to access.
The addition is a part of a five-step strategy CMS announced in April which includes: strengthening oversight, enhancing enforcement of health and safety standards, increasing transparency, improving quality and putting patients over paperwork.
“The Trump Administration and CMS are committed to ensuring that nursing home residents are safe from abuse and neglect,” said Semma Verma, administrator of CMS. “Through the transparency pillar of our five-part strategy to ensure safety and quality in nursing homes, we are giving residents and families the ability to make informed choices.”
CMS recommends that families and potential residents visit nursing home facilities along with the rating system provided by Nursing Home Compare. Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, a Harrisburg-based group representing providers of senior care, said that the alert icons will have the opposite effect.
“Yesterday’s decision by CMS to highlight facilities on the Nursing Home Compare website cited for isolated incidents of abuse and/or neglect by including a red alert icon will put an end to firsthand research,” he said. “It will put a stop to valuable care conversations. In some cases, it may place an undue burden on families who now believe access to compassionate, quality care is not available close to home in those facilities.”
Shamberg added that he believes incidents of abuse and neglect aren’t always a reflection of the failures of a nursing home facility.
“To penalize that facility with an icon that screams ‘Don’t send your loved one here!’ contradicts the necessity for visits, questions and firsthand research,” he said.