Kentucky Nursing Home Law Would Require that Ratings be Displayed

A bill proposed last week by the state legislature could require Kentucky nursing homes to openly display the ratings they received under the federal government’s new nursing home rating system.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began posting information from their inspections on a new website in December 2008. However, many nursing home residents and family members are not familiar with the internet and may not know how to access the information.

Under the rating system, all nursing homes are assigned one to five stars for staffing, quality and health inspection, as well as an overall rating to help families and residents evaluate facilities and reduce the risk of injuries caused by nursing home neglect and abuse.

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House Bill 318 was filed on February 6, 2009, in the General Assembly of the Kentucky House by Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway. The Kentucky nursing home law would require that a facility’s rating be displayed in a prominent place, such as the front entrance, and that the nursing home ratings be explained.

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Rollins suggested that requiring facilities to publicly post their ratings will help hold the facilities accountable for the quality of care at Kentucky nursing homes and encourage low-rated homes to improve.

Approximately 23 percent of all nursing homes in Kentucky received one star when the ratings were released, which means that the overall quality of care is “much below average” at those facilities. In contrast, only 10 percent of Kentucky nursing homes received five stars, which is “much above average.”

The new nursing home rating system is based on thousands of complaint investigations and inspection records. The qualify measures include evaluations of information such as how many patients developed nursing home pressure sores from being left unattended for extended periods of time, how many nursing staff hours were provided each day and how many were placed in nursing home restraints.

If the new bill is enacted as law, Kentucky would be the first state in the United States with a nursing home rating display law. However, law makers in California are considering similar legislation.

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