Biden administration releases more information on nursing homes

The Health and Human Services Department said it is acting to help the public learn more about the ownership of 15,000 nursing homes.

The federal government is making it easier for the public to find out about the ownership of nursing homes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Monday it was making more ownership available for consumers, researchers and state and local officials.

President Joe Biden’s administration has touted more transparency in its efforts to drive improvement of nursing homes.

For the first time, the public will be able to clearly identify the owners of Medicare-certified nursing homes that own facilities in multiple states, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In addition, the ownership data will also be linked to information outlining the performance of facilities, including the owners who have a history of subpar performance, CMS said.

Consumers and watchdogs will be able to get more information on about 15,000 nursing homes certified by Medicare, according to CMS. The data file on nursing home ownership will be posted to data.cms.gov. The agency said the information will be updated monthly.

The data also outlines if nursing homes are owned by holding companies or consulting firms, including facilities with common ownership or management.

“We’re taking another major step forward in improving transparency in health care,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement.

“Researchers, states, regulators and others will be able to use this new data source to learn more about the impacts that nursing home ownership structures have on the care provided to residents,” she said.

Biden has called for minimum nursing standards at nursing homes. The Biden administration has pushed for tougher penalties for nursing homes that have consistently fallen short in protecting patients.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said the release of ownership data is another step aimed at improving nursing homes.

“President Biden has made clear that we must improve the quality of care in our nation’s nursing homes – and we are taking unprecedented steps to deliver on his call to action,” Becerra said in a statement. “Every family deserves the peace of mind of knowing their loved ones living in nursing homes are receiving the best possible care. We are continuing to make more data publicly available than ever before to improve transparency for researchers, regulators, and loved ones.”

Lawmakers have criticized nursing home operators for the high number of COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities. More than 200,000 residents and staff of nursing homes have died in the pandemic.

The National Academies released a report in April calling for changes in the funding and operation of nursing homes. The report concluded “the way in which the United States finances, delivers, and regulates care in nursing home settings is ineffective, inefficient, fragmented, and unsustainable.”

Nursing home industry leaders have said they need more funding and support from the federal government. Industry supporters have said many nursing homes are financially distressed, and many have faced staffing shortages in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six in 10 nursing homes and assisted living centers are limiting admissions due to staffing issues, the ACHA said.

Hospitals have been affected by the staffing issues of nursing homes. Hospital leaders have said they have had to keep patients that could be discharged to post-acute care facilities, because there are no available nursing home beds.