Government website rates nursing homes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans got a hand in the difficult and often emotional task of choosing a nursing home on Thursday, with the first-ever federal government website that rates the facilities for quality.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs that often pay for nursing home care, said its website rates 15,800 nursing homes that participate in the public insurance system.

“In this first round of quality ratings about 12 percent of the nation’s nursing homes received a full five-star rating while 22 percent scored at the low end with one star,” CMS said in a statement.

“The remaining 66 percent of facilities were distributed fairly evenly among the two, three and four star rankings.”

Measures that are assessed include the percent of residents who have bed sores after their first 90 days in the home, the number of residents whose mobility worsened after admission and whether residents received recommended medical care.

The site, at www.medicare.gov, will be updated monthly and also includes staffing levels and whether the facility is for-profit or not-for-profit.

“The new website improvements also include links to information for community-based alternatives to nursing homes that may be of great interest to families,” said Thomas Hamilton, who helped develop the new system.

“Around 3 million Americans depend on nursing homes at some point during each year to provide life-saving care,” CMS administrator Kerry Weems said in a statement.

“Most of those individuals are enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare and we all bear a special responsibility to protect their health and welfare,” he said.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Will Dunham and David Wiessler)

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