Ask Your Representatives to Support the Nursing Home Disclosure Act
Last week, Reps. Mike Levin (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) worked with the Society to introduce H.R. 8832, The Nursing Home Disclosure Act. The bipartisan bill would require nursing homes to report their medical directors to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which must publish this information on the online Care Compare tool. Currently, some nursing homes do not provide a full public report of who their medical directors are, leaving families without critical information they need as they search for quality nursing homes.
“Seniors and their families deserve peace of mind when it comes to choosing a nursing home, and that requires transparency about the medical director on staff,” said Rep. Levin. “It’s unacceptable that some nursing homes do not provide a full public accounting of who their medical director is. Our bipartisan bill will rectify that and require transparency that families need to have faith in their nursing homes.”
To qualify for Medicare payments, skilled nursing facilities must designate a physician to serve as medical director to implement resident care policies and coordinate medical care in the facility. While nursing homes are currently required to report all “managing employees,” which should include medical directors, there is significant underreporting in the system. During the first quarter of 2019, 30% of nursing homes did not report staff hours for their medical directors. Medicare’s Care Compare tool is an online database that helps Medicare beneficiaries find a Medicare provider. For nursing homes, Care Compare provides important information, including an overall five star-rating, ownership details, and the latest health and fire inspection results.
"We must ensure that nursing homes are transparent with the services they provide for our seniors," said Rep. Fitzpatrick. "More consistent disclosures of on-site medical directors for potential residents and their families will allow for a more thorough review and deliberative decision-making process on the best facility for each senior."
The Nursing Home Disclosure Act would add an explicit requirement for nursing homes to disclose their medical director and would require CMS to publish this information on the Care Compare website. This change would increase transparency for families as they search for nursing homes for their loved ones and would ensure the data collection necessary to hold facilities accountable for hiring qualified medical directors.
“The COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted the impact of the medical director on a nursing home's timely response to emerging scientific guidelines and implementation of effective resident care policies,” said Dr. Suzanne Gillespie, MD, RD, CMD, AMDA’s president. “The public identification of medical directors of nursing homes is a logical, important step in ensuring the quality of care in America's nursing homes.”
Karl Steinberg, MD, HMDC, CMD, AMDA’s immediate past president, said, "Nursing facility medical directors are vitally important to ensuring the quality of care that's provided to the residents. Nursing home residents and their families deserve to know who is responsible for implementing resident care policies and coordinating medical care in the facility, and this transparency is long overdue and very welcome."