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Government watchdog group says consumers need better info on nursing home ownership

Late last week, a government watchdog agency issued a report calling for increased transparency when it comes to nursing home ownership, because different ownership types can lead to different health outcomes for residents.

The Government Accountability Office, known as the GAO, was tasked with looking at how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid communicate nursing home ownership information on their website, Nursing Home Compare.

Several studies have shown that the quality of care provided at a nursing home can be related to its ownership. For example, for-profit and chain ownership may have lower staffing levels compared to nonprofit ownership.

The GAO found that information on owners isn’t organized in a way that gives consumers access to understandable or usable information.

The GAO made two recommendations, including using more plain language and providing consumers access to a list of all facilities under common ownership. 

Senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.