Nursing Homes: Federal Efforts to Monitor Resident Assessment Data Should Complement State Activities
GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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The nations 17,000 nursing homes play an essential role in our health care system, providing services to 1.6 million elderly and disabled persons who are temporarily or permanently unable to care for themselves but who do not require the level of care furnished in an acute care hospital. Depending on the identified needs of each resident, as determined through MDS assessments, nursing homes provide a variety of services, including nursing and custodial care, physical, occupational, and speech therapy, and medical social services.6 The majority of nursing home residents have their care paid for by Medicaid, a joint federal-state program for certain income individuals. Almost all nursing homes serve Medicaid residents, while more than 14,000 nursing homes are also Medicare- certified. Medicare, the federal health care program for elderly and disabled Americans, pays for posthospital nursing home stays if a beneficiary needs skilled nursing or rehabilitative services.7 Medicare covered skilled nursing home days account for approximately 9 percent of total nursing home days. Medicare beneficiaries tend to have shorter nursing home stays and receive more rehabilitation services than individuals covered by Medicaid.
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