Residents in nursing facilities faced higher infection rates and worse overall care experiences during the COVID-19 public health emergency highlighting long-standing concerns about the quality and cost-effectiveness of nursing facility care, especially for residents of color.
In a recent issue brief published by the Milbank Memorial Fund that HMA COO Chuck Milligan co-authored with Kate McEvoy, a program officer with Milbank, examined disparities in access, levels of care, and resident outcomes, and provided recommendations and guidance for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on future approach to federal policy in nursing facilities.
The brief, A Call for Federal Action to Improve Nursing Facilities, suggests CMS take the following steps to improve nursing facility oversight and care:
- Endorse linkage of any further public health emergency-related funding or other federal financial reimbursement to quality improvement.
- Align Medicare and Medicaid efforts to promote payment policies that are based on risk adjustment for complex care and incorporate value-based payment principles, eliminate unintended consequences of federal policies such as routine approval of nursing home bed taxes, and adopt a common foundation of quality measures.
- Expand existing guidance on rebalancing long-term services and supports.
- Enhance conditions of participation for nursing homes and hospitals by including structural measures such as census and staff turnover.
- Build out existing mechanisms like Care Compare to enhance public transparency, availability, and usability of cost report and ownership information and to provide timely and complete information on nursing facility citations.