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VA Nursing Home Ratings That Hid Poor Care Were Kept Secret

VA Nursing Home Ratings That Hid Poor Care Were Kept Secret
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Tuesday, 19 June 2018 10:41 AM

Nearly half of the VA’s nursing homes received the agency's lowest ratings, according to quality data that the agency tried to keep secret until recently, USA Today and the Boston Globe reported.

Some 60 nursing homes connected with the Department of Veterans Affairs had received only one of five possible stars as of Dec. 31, 2017, the two newspapers said after reviewing the documents they received.

The Trump administration has blamed the Obama administration for not making the statistics public earlier, USA Today said.

The undisclosed statistics showed that the government-run nursing homes scored worse on average than those in the private sector on nine of 11 indicators, ranging from rates of anti-psychotic drug prescription to residents' deterioration.

The newspapers said in some cases, the VA nursing homes scored much worse in indicators such as the number of residents who are in pain.

The VA checks up on care at nursing homes with quality indicators and unannounced inspections. The agency has used its star rankings based on the indicators since 2016. All of that information, though, has been kept from the public, the newspapers said.

Pennsylvania had five one-star VA nursing home facilities, while Texas and California had four each. The worst performers spanned 32 states, the newspapers said.

In an effort to push back on some statistics he called "misleading," VA spokesman Curtis Cashour told the Globe that VA quality tracking found that its nursing home residents were five times more likely to report being in pain than private nursing home residents.

Cashour said that 60 VA nursing homes had improved their ratings over the last year, while only one had a "meaningful" decline.

"We are committed to continuous improvement efforts in all of the [VA nursing homes] and demonstrating performance that is as good [as] or better than private sector facilities," Cashour said.

Alex Howard, the former deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, told the Globe that the VA should release all the data immediately on the nursing homes and make new information public on a routine basis.

"There shouldn't be a gap between the reality of how we're treating people under the government's care and public understanding of it," Howard said. "This is not a situation where we're concerned about some matter of national security, this is simply being honest about how well things are going."

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Nearly half of the VA’s nursing homes received the agency's lowest ratings, according to quality data that the agency reportedly tried to keep secret until recently.
va, nursing home, ratings, secret
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2018-41-19
Tuesday, 19 June 2018 10:41 AM
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