Nursing Homes Shocked at ‘Insanely Wrong’ CMS Data on COVID-19

June 11, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified June 12, 2020

The new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website launched last Thursday, and officials at skilled nursing facilities around the country were shocked to see their data reported inaccurately. According to this article in MedPage Today, the numbers are scaring families, harming the reputations of the nursing homes, and in some cases presenting information that is physically impossible, given the number of beds or staff in the facilities.

The administrator of the Saugus Rehab and Nursing Center in Saugus, Massachusetts, heard that the new website reported her facility had 794 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the second highest in the country — and 281 cases among staff. She gasped – “Oh my God. Where are they getting those numbers from?” said Josephine Ajayi. “That doesn’t make any sense.” Those weren’t the numbers that her facility reported to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network, under new rules from the CMS, she said.

CMS approved an interim final rule May 1 requiring more than 15,000 nursing homes receiving Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement to report COVID data by May 31, and weekly going forward. The data fills 56 columns detailing COVID-19 infected residents, staff, testing, and equipment, going back to at least May 1. As of Thursday, CMS said 88% of the nursing homes in the country had reported. Going forward after a grace period ended June 7, they risk fines of $1,000 and up for every week they fail to update their data. But in many cases, nursing home officials said their data was somehow scrambled, either because nursing home personnel reported in the wrong columns, or the numbers were loaded incorrectly somewhere between the CDC and CMS.

“This has destroyed the trust between the facilities and the families, because they’ve been reporting and telling the families, these are our numbers,” Sanders said. “Then these numbers come out and don’t make any sense at all. Unfortunately, some families are going to believe the government over the facilities.”

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