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Senators Escalate Battle Over Names of Worst Nursing homes

Senators escalate battle over ‘worst’ nursing homes list
Nine top U.S. senators have demanded the release of 74 additional names on a government list identifying the country’s worst performing nursing homes.

“Providing information about poorly performing nursing homes to the lobbyists who represent those facilities, and not to the senior citizens who would most benefit from this information, is outrageous,” said a letter from the lawmakers to Health and Human Service Secretary Michael Leavitt, who oversees the agency holding the list.

All of the homes on the list of 128 have repeatedly violated government regulations, earning them “special focus facilities” designation by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The publicly released version of the list last week contained the names of only the 54 worst nursing homes. The full list, which was given to state health departments and industry lobbyists at the American Health Care Association, has 128 names.

“Our goal in releasing the list of facilities to the nursing home trade groups was to challenge them to police themselves, not as lobbyists, but in their role as technical advisers to their members. We view these groups as part of the chain of accountability for poor-performing nursing homes,” said CMS spokeswoman Mary Kahn.

The senators’ letter also asked for federal guidance to state health departments about releasing names on the list. Some states have made in-state names public while others have said they were not allowed to.