clearn.png
Thursday August 6th, 2020 9:01PM

COVID-19 data on Medicare's nursing home site is incomplete

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — When the Trump administration required nursing homes to report their COVID-19 cases, it also promised to make the data available to residents, families and the public in a user-friendly way.

But some facilities that have had coronavirus cases and deaths turn up as having none on Medicare's COVID-19 nursing home website. Those data may be incomplete because the reporting requirements don't reach back to the start of the pandemic. Numbers don't necessarily portray the full picture.

“The biggest thing that needs to be taken away ... is in its current form, it is really leaving consumers in the dark,” Sam Brooks, project manager for Consumer Voice, said of the website, maintained by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Consumer Voice is a national advocacy group for improved quality in long-term care.

Nursing homes are only required to provide CMS with data on coronavirus cases and deaths among residents and staff as of May 8, or more than two months after the first outbreak in a U.S. facility was reported. Nursing homes have the option of full disclosure, but not all have taken it, and there is no penalty for withholding older data that may reflect poorly.

The missing information from early in the pandemic leads to some puzzling results on the website.

For example, a nursing home that had one of the first major reported outbreaks in the country — Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington — shows no confirmed COVID-19 cases and no deaths on the CMS data page.

A spokesman for Life Care Centers of America, a major chain, said the company is providing the information the government requested.

“We are reporting what CMS is asking us to report to them,” said Tim Killian. “We are not evading them in any way.

“The Kirkland facility is now COVID-free and it has been for some time,” Killian added. The data showing no cases “is a snapshot of what is currently in the facility.”

The company said its cumulative count shows 100 residents tested positive, and 34 died. “You can ask us directly and we’ll give you the exact numbers,” said Killian.

But consumer advocate Brooks said that information should be on the government website.

As it stands, the site “doesn’t tell the whole picture,” he said. “You are not going to be able to look at a home and make an informed decision."

CMS, which sets standards for nursing homes, said protecting residents is a top priority, and “transparency and information sharing has proven to be one of the keys to the battle against this pandemic.”

But the agency said it lacked the legal authority to require nursing homes to disclose COVID-19 information from before the effective date of its reporting rule in May.

On Capitol Hill, there is pressure for more information.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, recently introduced legislation that would require nursing homes to report coronavirus cases and deaths going back to Jan. 1, a push that has bipartisan support.

The estimated 1.4 million people living in some 15,500 nursing homes represent a tiny share of the U.S. population, but they have borne a disproportionate share of coronavirus deaths. Nursing homes are only now starting to emerge from a national lockdown that took effect in mid-March.

According to the latest CMS figures, more than 33,000 nursing home residents have died in the pandemic. A running tally by The Associated Press, which also includes other long-term care facilities and staff as well as residents, shows more than 57,000 deaths.

Depending on the total count, that translates from about one-fourth of the deaths to more than 40%, strikingly high proportions in either case.

Coronavirus data for nursing homes do not appear directly on Medicare's NursingHomeCompare website, the main portal for consumers trying to research a facility on behalf of a family member or friend. Instead, a link takes users to a different COVID-19 site that features statistics and a national nursing home locator map.

Finding information on individual nursing homes via the data website can be confusing.

If users type in a ZIP code or the name of a nursing home, the website’s locator map will display some small red dots near a larger marker icon, which also has a big dot in the middle.

Instructions say click on one of the dots. But which one?

The data is under the small red dots, not the larger locator, which instinctively draws the user’s eye.

“I would click on the big dot,” said policy attorney Toby Edelman of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, which represents enrollees. “Why would I look for this thing that I can barely see?”

CMS said it has received no reports related to search problems although more than 100,000 individuals accessed the site in June.

The agency says it will continue to evaluate the usability of the website to ensure it meets consumer needs.

___

AP investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Health, AP Business, AP Business - Consumer News, AP Health - Senior Health, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Health Care, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Dr. Fauci says wear masks to limit surging cases
Dr. Anthony Fauci says Alabama and other states with soaring coronavirus rates have a window of opportunity to bring it under control
3:27PM ( 23 minutes ago )
DeVos rejects part-time reopening for schools amid pandemic
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is assailing plans by some local districts to offer in-person instruction only a few days a week
3:22PM ( 28 minutes ago )
COVID-19 data on Medicare's nursing home site is incomplete
The Trump administration is requiring nursing homes to report their COVID-19 cases and deaths
3:12PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Biden wants US to produce more of its own pandemic supplies
Joe Biden is promising to shift production of medical equipment and other key pandemic-fighting products “back to U.S. soil,” creating jobs and bolstering a domestic supply chain he says has been exposed as inadequate and vulnerable by the coronavirus outbreak
3:03PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Mary Trump's book offers scathing portrayal of president
President Donald Trump's niece offers a scathing portrayal of her uncle in a new book
2:54PM ( 56 minutes ago )
McConnell eyes virus aid as evictions, benefits cuts loom
With Congress bracing for the next coronavirus aid package, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is outlining Republican priorities
2:53PM ( 57 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
In France, study shows virus hit African immigrants hardest
A new study from the French government’s statistics agency shows that death rates doubled among immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa and tripled in the Paris region at the height of the country's coronavirus outbreak
3:00PM ( 50 minutes ago )
The Latest: Brazil President Bolsonaro tests positive
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity
11:44AM ( 4 hours ago )
Health panel may open lung cancer screening to more smokers
A U.S. health panel wants to widen the number of current and former smokers offered yearly scans for lung cancer
11:02AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Health
France's Rodin Museum sells bronzes to weather virus crisis
The Rodin Museum in Paris may have an ace up its sleeve to help see it through the coronavirus economic crisis: It can sell limited-edition versions of the French sculptor’s masterpieces
1:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
Hiring soared in May as mass layoffs eased
The job market took a big step toward healing in May, though plenty of damage remains, as a record level of hiring that month followed record layoffs in March and April
12:28PM ( 3 hours ago )
Most stocks slink back after strong rally, except for tech
Most of Wall Street is slipping in midday trading on Tuesday, giving back some of the big gains made the past couple weeks, but a handful of tech giants bucked the trend and kept the market’s losses in check
12:20PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
Medicare nursing home COVID site leaves users 'in the dark'
The Trump administration is requiring nursing homes to report their COVID-19 cases and deaths
12:08AM ( 15 hours ago )
Patriots owner's prostitution case heads to appellate court
Prosecutors charging New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with buying sex from massage parlor prostitutes are trying to save their case
8:54AM ( 1 week ago )
Bar owners worry as virus surges in their workplaces
A Houston bar owner who believed he could no longer provide a safe environment for his staff, customers and himself felt he had no choice but to shut down his business
12:17PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Business - Consumer News
The Latest: Young people most of Arizona's confirmed cases
Arizona state health officials say the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona has now surpassed 100,000 and younger people, not the elderly, have comprised more than half of them
10:20PM ( 17 hours ago )
NY count: 6,300 virus patients were sent to nursing homes
New York hospitals released more than 6,300 recovering coronavirus patients into nursing homes during the height of the pandemic under a controversial, now-scrapped policy
9:17PM ( 18 hours ago )
The Latest: Australia’s most populous state to close border
The leader of Australia’s most populous state says her government’s decision to close its border with hard-hit Victoria state marks a new phase in the country’s coronavirus pandemic
11:15PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Health - Senior Health
Wall Street slips as virus outbreaks dim rebound hopes
U.S. stocks are falling in early trading Tuesday as expanding coronavirus outbreaks dim hopes for a speedy recovery
9:46AM ( 6 hours ago )
Cyprus: EU partners aim to rein in Turkey's 'expansionism'
The president of Cyprus says the island nation and its European Union partners are working to rein in Turkey's “expansionist policy” in the eastern Mediterranean amid heightened tensions over an offshore search for hydrocarbons
6:50AM ( 9 hours ago )
Asia markets slip as virus outbreaks mute hopes for rebound
Markets are mostly lower in Asia as expanding coronavirus outbreaks dim hopes for a global recovery
3:06AM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Miami-Dade County imposing restrictions after cases spike
Hospitals were fast approaching capacity in Florida and Texas, and the Miami area again ordered restaurants closed as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations began to climb
3:22PM ( 1 day ago )
Serbia opens field hospital; S Africa mulls tougher lockdown
Serbian troops have set up an emergency 500-bed field hospital as the Balkan nation battles a surge in coronavirus infections that underscored the risks of swiftly easing lockdowns
10:54AM ( 1 day ago )
Serbian military opens field hospital amid coronavirus spike
Troops in Serbia have set up an emergency 500-bed field hospital, a day after neighboring Kosovo re-imposed a nighttime curfew in four cities
9:29AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Health Care
No more delays: What to know about the July 15 tax deadline
Tax procrastinators, your time is running out
2:02PM ( 1 day ago )
No more delays: What to know about the July 15 deadline
Tax procrastinators, your time is running out
8:59AM ( 1 day ago )
21 Savage launches free online financial program for youth
Rapper 21 Savage says he will launch a free online financial literacy education program for youth sheltered at home during the coronavirus pandemic
6:53PM ( 4 days ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
The Latest: Dr. Fauci says wear masks to limit surging cases
Dr. Anthony Fauci says Alabama and other states with soaring coronavirus rates have a window of opportunity to bring it under control
3:27PM ( 23 minutes ago )
DeVos rejects part-time reopening for schools amid pandemic
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is assailing plans by some local districts to offer in-person instruction only a few days a week
3:22PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Women's rights groups protest French ministers' appointments
Women’s rights groups are protesting French President Emmanuel Macron’s appointment of an interior minister who has been accused of rape and of a justice minister who has criticized the #MeToo movement
3:11PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Campaigning during coronavirus, GOP ex-envoy falls short
Jon Huntsman Jr. was an enormously popular governor, scion of a prominent family and ambassador under two presidents to America’s biggest global rivals, so he should be a political force to be reckoned with
3:11PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Venezuela high court orders takeover of Guaidó's party
Venezuela’s government-stacked Supreme Court has ordered the takeover of one of the nation’s most prominent parties, the one to which opposition leader Juan Guaidó belongs
3:09PM ( 42 minutes ago )