Thanks to Obamacare-related data collection, the federal government has realized something many nurses have known for years- many nursing homes are deliberately understaffed
. Perhaps this will lead to change.
ITHACA, N.Y. - Most nursing homes had fewer nurses and caretaking staff than they had reported to the government for years, according to new federal data, bolstering the long-held suspicions of many families that staffing levels were often inadequate.
The records for the first time reveal frequent and significant fluctuations in day-to-day staffing, with particularly large shortfalls on weekends. On the worst staffed days at an average facility, the new data show, on-duty personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as they did when the staffing roster was fullest.
The data, analyzed by Kaiser Health News, come from daily payroll records Medicare only recently began gathering and publishing from more than 14,000 nursing homes, as required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Medicare previously had been rating each facility's staffing levels based on the homes' own unverified reports, making it possible to game the system.
The payroll records provide the strongest evidence that over the last decade, the government's five-star rating system for nursing homes often exaggerated staffing levels and rarely identified the periods of thin staffing that were common. Medicare is now relying on the new data to evaluate staffing, but the revamped star ratings still mask the erratic levels of people working from day to day.
Last edit by Brian S. on Jul 13
Medicare Slashes Star Ratings for Staffing at 1 in 11 Nursing Homes
Medicare has lowered its star ratings for staffing levels in one out of 11 of the nation's nursing homes - almost 1,400 of them - because they were either inadequately staffed with registered nurses or failed to provide payroll data that proved they had the required nursing coverage, federal records released this week show.
Medicare only recently began collecting and publishing payroll data on the staffing of nursing homes as required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, rather than relying as it had before on the nursing homes' own unverified reports.
The payroll records revealed lower overall staffing levels than the homes had disclosed, particularly among registered nurses. Those are the highest-trained caregivers required to be in a nursing home, and they supervise other nurses and aides. Medicare mandates that every facility have a registered nurse working at least eight hours every day.
"It's a real positive that they actually are taking the payroll-based system seriously, that they're using it to punish those nursing homes that either aren't reporting staffing or those that are below the federal limit," said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. "Could they do more? Sure, but I think it's a really good start."
Last edit by Not_A_Hat_Person on Jul 30
: Reason: Added a link