One in five nursing homes receive poor quality ratings

One in five of the nation's 15,700 nursing homes have consistently received poor ratings for overall quality, USA TODAY reports.

USA Today found that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have homes with poor ratings from one year to the next. More than a quarter-million patients live in homes given another set of low scores within the past year, according to data released today by Medicare, which first released the star ratings of the nation's nursing homes in late 2008. The ratings are derived from inspections, complaint investigations and other data collected mostly in 2008 and 2009.  Nearly all homes that repeatedly received few overall stars were owned by for-profit corporations, the data show.

Medicare spokeswoman Mary Kahn says a one-star nursing home is not necessarily a terrible facility. Even the lowest-rated homes must still meet baseline Medicare conditions, she says.  The newspaper's analysis found the lowest-rated homes had an average of 14 deficiencies per facility, which can include quality-of-life measures and safety violations.

(SOURCES: Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, http://kaiserhealthnews.org, January 28, 2010; USA Today, USAtoday.com).