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Alliance Expresses Support for Concept Underlying New CMS 'Five-Star' Rating System for Nursing Facilities

Will Work with CMS to Fine-Tune Translation of Data into Valid, Accurate and Consumer-Friendly Information

WASHINGTON, June 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In expressing support for a new five-star rating system for nursing facilities announced today by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care noted its long-standing support for collecting and publicly disclosing valid and timely quality information and its desire to work closely with CMS to ensure that the new system is based on valid data. The result should be that the public has more timely and accurate information on which to select and evaluate nursing facilities and long term care stakeholders have confidence that the underlying data accurately reflects the quality of care provided in each facility.

"The Alliance has long believed that reliably measuring quality and publicly disclosing the results help consumers identify the facility that best meets their needs and expectations," stated Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance. "Disclosure of accurate information helps improve facility performance, increases overall accountability, and ultimately benefits consumer and provider alike. We believe CMS is committed to similar principles and strongly support the concept behind the new five-star rating system."

Rosenbloom noted that, "over the years, the Alliance has led collaborative efforts among providers and in partnership with CMS to improve quality in nursing facilities. "We helped to lead the Quality First effort among providers, worked closely with CMS to develop the comparative quality information already available on the Nursing Home Compare website, and are partnering with CMS, providers, consumers and other stakeholders as part of current Advancing Excellence campaign."

Rosenbloom added that while "translating" multiple sources of quality data into a consumer-friendly rating system is worthwhile, "we must have confidence that the underlying elements comprising the rating system are reliable and will accurately reflect the quality of care provided in each facility. Moving forward, this constitutes our most significant challenge."

The Alliance President outlined five key principles that should guide efforts to develop a rating system that "will effectively help inform decisions regarding post-acute and long-term care:"

-- Valid Metrics. Statistically validated metrics must form the basis of

any rating system that attempts to measure quality and translate those

measurements for consumers.

-- Customer Satisfaction. Metrics must go beyond process and outcomes

measures to include the satisfaction levels of patients and, when

appropriate, family members and employees.

-- Specialization. A reliable system must differentiate the quality of

care in facilities that specialize in certain types of care, including,

for example, differentiating facilities providing care to post-acute

care to high acuity patients from facilities that care for long-term,

chronic care patients.

-- Availability of Detailed Information. Even the most rigorous set of

metrics has limitations when it comes to making health care decisions.

It is essential that consumers have access to more information than

basic ratings alone.

-- Validation. Before any rating system is made available to consumers

broadly, it should be tested and validated. Both consumers and

providers could be irreparably harmed by relying on inadequately tested

ratings systems.

"We intend to respond in greater detail to CMS' request for public comments with the goal of maximizing the accuracy and practical value of the rating system, and look forward to working closely with CMS and other stakeholders on this initiative," Rosenbloom added. As CMS notes in its press release, the five-star system is the next step in a series of nursing home quality initiatives, the most recent of which have involved collaboration among CMS, the Alliance and other stakeholder groups. "The results of these ongoing - and successful - collaborative efforts have been improved nursing home care quality on several important clinical fronts, and we will continue to embrace enhanced disclosure and transparency," Rosenbloom explained, concluding that "working together with CMS, we are hopeful that the five-star system will improve substantially the validity, accuracy and timeliness of information available to the public."

SOURCE The Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care
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