OIG Releases Report on Nursing Home Infection Rates for COVID-19

January 20, 2023

Last week, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report noting that “better protection are needed for future emergencies” like the COVID-19 pandemic. The report found that “more than a thousand nursing homes reached infection rates of 75 percent or more in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The report discusses how nursing homes had a surge of COVID-19 cases during the spring of 2020 and a greater surge in the fall, after they were known to be vulnerable. The OIG says that nursing homes with extremely high infection rates experienced an average overall mortality rate approaching 20 percent, roughly double that of other nursing homes.

The OIG used Medicare claims data to determine the extent to which nursing homes had Medicare beneficiaries who were diagnosed with COVID-19 or likely COVID-19. The report noted that it recommends that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) re-examine current nursing staff requirements and revise them as necessary. OIG further recommended that improvement to how surveys identify infection control risks to nursing home residents is needed along with strengthening guidance on assessing the scope and severity of those risks. Finally, the OIG recommended that CMS target nursing homes in most need of infection control intervention and provide enhanced oversight and technical assistance to those facilities.