CMS’s COVID-19 Data Included Required Information from the Vast Majority of Nursing Homes, But CMS Could Take Actions to Improve Completeness and Accuracy of the Data

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) posted this 43-page report on September 1, 2021. OIG’s objective was to determine whether CMS’s COVID-19 data for nursing homes were complete and accurate.

These recommendations are found on page 22 of the report:

CMS concurred with three of (OIG) recommendations but did not concur with the other three recommendations. After reviewing CMS’s comments, we maintain that (OIG) recommendations are valid.  CMS Administrator Brooks-LaSure’s response to OIG is found on pages 34 through 37 of the report.

I’m still reviewing the report and trying to sort it all out (likely a case of a long week + it’s the Friday before a long holiday weekend + my brain is already overstuffed).  I think we can all agree that a better data reporting system would be in everyone’s best interest.  Perhaps a single repository for data collection (or states and CDC working together with the data to provide a clear and exacting picture of what’s happening in NHs).  An adage I learned years ago when starting work with software data is garbage in/garbage out.  I’m not suggesting that any of the data is garbage, but the data must be accurate and complete or it’s just numbers on paper and doesn’t reflect what’s really going on.  People’s lives are at stake here.  The data must reflect that.  The responsible parties for this are nursing homes, CDC, state health departments and CMS.  There’s work to be done by all.