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Federal agency that runs Medicaid and Medicare improves reporting on nursing homes

Joe Byrnes
The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services website called Care Compare provides ratings and information on nursing homes.

The federal agency that runs Medicaid and Medicare is taking steps to bolster its consumer-focused ratings of nursing homes.

You'll want to use the Care Compare website if you're ever looking for a nursing home.

That's where the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services gives an overall star rating along with details on health care, staffing and quality.

"The Care Compare tool is an absolute necessity for anyone who is wanting to look into whether or not a nursing home meets a five-star rating criteria, if there are any infractions or any kind of violations that have occurred within their facility," said AARP Florida Director of Advocacy Zayne Smith.

Now CMS says it will audit nursing homes for the misuse of antipsychotic drugs. Violators will see their ratings plummet.

That's been a problem for decades, Smith said. "What we're seeing today is the very intentional move by CMS to say we know this is still an issue even though there are safeguards in place, like Medicare and Medicaid banning the use of these types of chemical restraints without a schizophrenia diagnosis."

Care Compare also posts inspections based on complaints, but those don't show up while nursing homes challenge the findings. Beginning next week, that's going to change -- quarterly updates will include those citations.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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