CHICAGO, IL – The federal government waived several reporting requirements for nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although they have been reinstated, the temporary pause will continue to have ripple effects on public data for years to come.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) released an updated tip sheet explaining how the agency’s including data on the Nursing Home Compare website.
In March, CMS announced that the fourth quarter 2019 data for the Skilled Nursing Facility Quality Reporting Program (QRP) and the Value-Based Purchasing Program (SNF VBP) would be optional. This does not require submissions for the first and second quarters of 2020. The agency positioned the move as an emergency measure to allow health care providers to focus on the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma stated the exceptions and extensions that were grant allows for CMS to support clinicians fighting coronavirus on the front lines.
The waived expired on July 1 with quality and Minimum Data Set (MDS) reporting resuming as usual. However, because of how much of CMS’s public data lags the present by several quarters, the pause will have a long-lasting ripple impact on Nursing Home Compare.
The missing data for quarter one and two of 2020 will impact what is displayed on the Nursing Home Compare too; however, CMS claims they have developed a strategy to accommodate these quarters of data.
Enough providers were able to voluntarily report quarter four 2019 data to include that information in the October refresh, which will also unveil six new quality measures. These include:
- Changes in skin integrity post-acute care: pressure ulcer/injury
- Drug regiment review conducted with follow-up for identified issues
- Application of IRF function outcome measure: change in self-care
- Application of IRF functional outcome measure: change in mobility
- Application of IRF functional outcome measure: discharge self-care score
- Application of IRF functional outcome measure: discharge mobility score
October 2020 data will remain constant until public reporting resumes in January 2022, with the next normal Nursing Home Compare refresh which is scheduled for April 2022.
If CMS should change the methodology for calculating measures before January 2022, the agency will follow normal rulemaking procedures with notice and comment periods, according to Skilled Nursing News.
CMS acknowledged the resumption of data reporting requirements on July 1 may have created data mismatches. For example, a resident who does not have an admission record in the MDS because it occurred during the pause.
The agency stated they will make adjustments on their end to accommodate any records that may have missing admissions. The mismatched sets of records will not be counted or included in SNF data calculations for Nursing Home Compare.