Some nursing homes lose ‘stars’ as new ranking system goes into effect

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The federal government has released a new ranking system for nursing homes and several Rhode Island facilities do not rate as well as they used to.

Of the 81 nursing homes in the state, 26 received a perfect five-star rating, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ updated system. Under the previous system, 29 nursing homes in the state were five-star facilities.

“There is a concern, certainly among members who lost stars,” said Scott Fraser, president of the Rhode Island Health Care Association, which represents dozens of long-term care facilities in the state.

“They’ve said, ‘we haven’t done anything different. We were five-star yesterday and now today when the new ratings happen, we’re a three star. How can this be?'” Fraser added. “They were still providing the same quality care.”

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the updated star rankings are a reflection of several factors including staffing and health inspections.

The agency said the rankings help consumers make important decisions about their care but CMS acknowledges a loss in stars “does not necessarily represent a sudden decline in quality.”

Here’s a breakdown of the rankings in Rhode Island:

  • 5 stars – 26
  • 4 stars – 13
  • 3 stars – 11
  • 2 stars 23
  • 1 star – 7

Ratings for one facility were not available.

“The problem, as we see it, is they changed the goalpost,” Fraser said. “They changed some of the requirements for the items that they were ranking on.”

“Certainly a constant battle all our homes are having is staffing,” he added.

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Fraser and CMS agree the rating system is not the only tool consumers should use when selecting a nursing home.

Consumers should also ask for recommendations from family and friends, schedule a visit at the facility, talk with the administrator and residents, and carefully consider specific services that will be needed.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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