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New Federal Law Funds Collection of Nursing Home Staffing Data

October 15, 2014

President Obama (D) on October 6 signed into law the IMPACT Act, which, among other measures, will implement a long-delayed provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requiring nursing homes to more accurately report staffing data.

Nursing homes will have to electronically report staffing data every quarter. “This new system will increase accuracy, improve the timeliness of the data, and allow for the calculation of quality measures for staff turnover, retention, types of staffing, and levels of different types of staffing,” a White House press release said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which will oversee the staffing-data collection, will be able to audit the data using nursing home payrolls to ensure greater accuracy.

The data-collection system is scheduled to be in place by the end of fiscal year 2016, according to the new law.

Higher staffing levels of nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) correlates with better care quality for consumers in nursing homes. But reliable staffing data can be extremely difficult to come by, according to the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit research organization that focuses on health care.

“As a result, consumers and family members select facilities using flawed and sometimes misleading information, which can affect the quality of safety of resident care,” an October 6 Altarum blog post says. 

The ACA, signed into law in March 2010, included a provision to implement a new data reporting system by March 2012. But CMS, citing “workload and costs,” pushed the project to the backburner.

The IMPACT Act — which stands for Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act — provides the funding for CMS to gather nursing home staffing data. 

Additionally, the act will put in place “new and streamlined quality measures for nursing homes, home health agencies, and other post-acute care providers participating in Medicare,” the White House press release said.

“The Act will facilitate patients comparing outcomes across different care settings, supporting better choices and better outcomes for patients,” it continues.

— by Matthew Ozga

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