The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released an expanded list of persistently poor-performing nursing homes, including over thirty facilities in Texas. The list includes hundreds of facilities that participate, or are candidates for participation, in the Special Focus Facility (SFF) program, designed to increase oversight of nursing homes that consistently fail to meet required care standards and have numerous documented cases of abuse and neglect.
Of the more than 15,700 nursing homes in the U.S., hundreds qualify for the Special Focus program, however CMS limits the program to a mere 88 facilities due to a lack of funding and resources. CMS has identified about 400 additional facilities, with a “persistent record of poor care,” as candidates for the SFF program, although there is virtually no difference between participant and candidate facilities; all have substantially failed to comply with federal care standards and patient protections.
CMS is required to provide the public with Information about nursing home quality of care through “Nursing Home Compare,” a program found on the medicare.gov website. CMS rates facilities with one to five stars for quality of care and other performance measures, five stars being the highest rating. Though SFF participant facilities have no stars and are designated with a cautionary symbol, CMS provides no designation to inform the public about candidate facilities.
The list of candidate facilities was released at the request of Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, who published a bipartisan report on Families’ and Residents’ Right to Know: Uncovering Poor Care in America’s Nursing Homes in June. The report includes examples of horrific incidents of abuse and neglect that occurred recently in facilities across the country – from Delaware to Hawaii, from Florida to Michigan – more than thirty years after the federal Nursing Home Reform law was enacted to protect the rights of elderly and disabled residents of nursing homes.