Aspen Living Center (Photo via www.savaseniorcare.com)
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WASHINGTON • The federal government for years has kept under wraps the names of hundreds of nursing homes around the country found by inspectors to have serious ongoing health, safety or sanitary problems, including four in Colorado.
Nearly 400 facilities nationwide had a “persistent record of poor care” as of April, but they were not included along with a shorter list of homes that get increased federal scrutiny and do have warning labels, according to a Senate report released Monday.
Budget cuts appear to be contributing to the problem by reducing money available for the focused inspections that are required for nursing homes on the shorter list, according to documents and interviews.
The secrecy undermines the federal commitment to ensure transparency for families going through the difficult process of finding a nursing home for a loved one and raises questions about why the names of some nursing homes are not disclosed while others are publicly identified, according to two senators who released the report on Monday.
“When a family makes the hard decision to seek nursing home services for a loved one, they deserve to know if a facility under consideration suffers from systemic shortcomings,” said Toomey.
The senators released a list provided them by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, of nursing homes with documented problems whose names were not publicly disclosed by the government.
A fifth Colorado facility, Bethany Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Lakewood, was named as a “Special Focus Facility,” meaning it already has received increased federal scrutiny and has been assigned a warning label.
About 1.3 million Americans are nursing home residents, cared for in more than 15,700 facilities. The senators’ report noted that problem nursing homes account for about 3 percent.