Skilled Nursing

LeadingAge Fights Red Hand Nursing Home Icon

By Jodi Eyigor, LeadingAge

LeadingAge has mounted a campaign to halt the red hand icon the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to attach to the Nursing Home Compare profiles of nursing homes cited for abuse. While abuse and poor quality care cannot be tolerated or excused, the icon will neither increase transparency nor help consumers pick the right nursing home for themselves or a family member.

The icon will make no distinction between abuse citations that result from intentional harm or injury to a resident and citations relating to mistakes made in carrying out a caregiving task that have an unintended result of hurting a resident. The icon will not distinguish between nursing homes that take appropriate steps to correct and report an abusive incident and homes that fail to do so. All of the nuances in these varied situations will be reduced to a red sign telling consumers, “Stop! Do Not Proceed!” The icon will signal to consumers that the nursing home is not to be trusted and should be avoided.

The icon does a disservice to both nursing homes and consumers. It provides no more information than consumers currently have available on Nursing Home Compare and could well mislead them as to the quality of care provided by a nursing home. And nursing homes cited for any form of abuse will bear the icon on Nursing Home Compare for a year or longer, even if they act immediately to correct the situation that gave rise to the citation and take measures to prevent a future recurrence.

LeadingAge has written to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, urging her not to proceed with the red icon. We have issued an action alert to LeadingAge members to contact CMS in opposition to the icon. We also have posted and distributed talking points explaining the dangers the icon poses for both consumers and providers in our field.

What is needed is true reform of the broken nursing home oversight system. The red icon is a gimmick that will do nothing to accomplish what all of us want to see – the highest quality nursing home care and sound, verifiable information on which nursing homes are providing it.