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Medicare

CMS Medicare Quality Improvement Initiatives

On October 6th 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced two initiatives to improve the quality of post-acute care. First, the expansion and strengthening of the agency’s widely-used Five Star Quality Rating System for Nursing Homes will improve consumer information about individual nursing homes’ quality. Second, proposed new conditions of participation for home health agencies will modernize Medicare’s Home Health Agency Conditions of Participation to ensure safe delivery of quality care to home health patients.

A release from CMS quotes Marilyn Tavenner, CMS administrator, as saying, “We are focused on using as many tools as are available to promote quality improvement and better outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries. Whether it is the regulations that guide provider practices or the information we provide directly to consumers, our primary goal is improving outcomes.”

Nursing Home Five-Star Rating System

Beginning in 2015, CMS will implement the following improvements to the Nursing Home Five Star Quality Rating System:

Nationwide Focused Survey Inspections: Effective January 2015, CMS and states will implement focused survey inspections nationwide for a sample of nursing homes to enable better verification of both the staffing and quality measure information that is part of the Five-Star Quality Rating System. In Fiscal Year (FY 2014), CMS piloted special surveys of nursing homes that focused on investigating the coding of the Minimum Data Set (MDS), which are based on resident assessments and are used in the quality measures.

Payroll-Based Staffing Reporting: CMS will implement a quarterly electronic reporting system that is auditable back to payrolls to verify staffing information. This new system will increase accuracy and timeliness of data, and allow for the calculation of quality measures for staff turnover, retention, types of staffing, and levels of different types of staffing. Implementation will be improved by funding provided in the recently enacted, bipartisan Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act (IMPACT) of 2014.

Additional Quality Measures: CMS will increase both the number and type of quality measures used in the Five-Star Quality Rating System. The first additional measure, starting January 2015, will be the extent to which antipsychotic medications are in use. Future additional measures will include claims-based data on re-hospitalization and community discharge rates.

Timely and Complete Inspection Data: CMS will also strengthen requirements to ensure that States maintain a user-friendly website and complete inspections of nursing homes in a timely and accurate manner for inclusion in the rating system.

Improved Scoring Methodology:In 2015, CMS will revise the scoring methodology by which we calculate each facility’s quality measure rating, which is used to calculate the overall Five Star rating. We also note that sources independent of self-reporting by nursing homes already are weighted higher than self-reported components in the scoring methodology.

“Nursing homes are working to improve their quality, and we are improving how we measure that quality,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., deputy administrator for innovation and quality and CMS chief medical officer. “We believe the improvements we are making to the Five Star system will add confidence that the reported improvements are genuine, are sustained, and are benefiting residents.”

Home Health Conditions of Participation

The proposed Home Health Conditions of Participation would improve the quality of home health services for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries by strengthening patient rights and improving communication that focuses on patient wellbeing. Currently there are more than 5 million people with Medicare and Medicaid benefits that receive home health care services each year from approximately 12,500 Medicare-certified home health agencies.

The proposed regulation, to be displayed Monday, October 6, at the Federal Register, would modernize the home health regulations for the first time since 1989 with a focus on patient-centered, well-coordinated care. Elements in the regulation include expansion of patient rights requirements; refocusing of the patient assessment on physical, mental, emotional, and psychosocial conditions; improved communication systems and requirements for a data-driven quality assessment; and performance improvement (QAPI) program.

For more information, visit: http://www.cms.gov/Center/Provider-Type/Home-Health-Agency-HHA-Center.html.