Following Efforts by Casey, Wyden, and Cummings, GAO Releases Results of CMS Nursing Home Rating System

Dec 6, 2016
Press Release

Following Efforts by Casey, Wyden, and Cummings,  GAO Releases Results of CMS Nursing Home Rating System


Washington, D.C. - Following a push by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Representative Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) today published their report of the federal government’s nursing home rating system the members called for last year. The members made the request to determine whether the Five-Star Quality Rating System provided seniors, people with disabilities, and their families with reliable and accurate information that they could use to make informed decisions on what nursing home to select for a love one.  Questions were raised in 2014 about the quality and transparency of the rating system after there were reports revealing deficiencies in the system.

“My home state of Pennsylvania has the fifth largest population of older citizens in the country, with 2.15 million older citizens, and we have an abiding obligation to ensure that each one of those older citizens receive the care and services they deserve,” Casey said. “This report makes important recommendations on how to improve this rating system.  I call on CMS to move swiftly to implement these changes.

“Selecting a nursing home is a consequential and challenging decision for seniors and their families, and they need the best information possible,” Wyden said. “Today’s report from GAO shines a light on how the Five-Star Rating System could be improved to make information on nursing home quality more transparent and easily accessible. All Americans expect Medicare to live up to its promise of high-quality, affordable health care, and working to increase transparency and choice is an important step to making that a reality.”

“American families rely on CMS to publish meaningful ratings that will help guide them through difficult decisions they face when they seek nursing care for their family members,” Cummings said.  “I encourage CMS to carefully consider these recommendations to ensure that ratings accurately and clearly reflect the measures of comfort and quality that Americans expect from such a rating system.”

The GAO report found that consumers could benefit from improvements in the rating system and issued four recommendations:

  • Develop a systemic process for reviewing website improvements, including how CMS will prioritize such improvements
  • Add information that allows consumers to make national comparisons of nursing homes rather than just compare facilities within a state
  • Evaluate the feasibility of adding consumer satisfaction information to the system
  • Develop and test introductory explanatory information on the five star system to be prominently displayed on the website. 
114th Congress