According to the Kaiser Health News, Medicare has recently lowered its star ratings for staffing levels in 1 in 11 of the nation’s nursing homes — almost 1,400 of them — because they either had inadequate numbers of registered nurses or failed to provide payroll data that proved they had the required nursing coverage.

Medicare only recently began collecting and publishing payroll data on the staffing of nursing homes as required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.  Previously, the Medicare Five Star Quality Rating System relied upon the nursing homes’ own unverified reports.

Medicare updated its Nursing Home Compare website on July 25, replacing the first ratings based on payroll data issued in April.

The payroll records revealed lower overall staffing levels than homes had disclosed, particularly among registered nurses. Those are the highest-trained caregivers required to be in a nursing home, and they supervise other nurses and aides. Medicare mandates that every facility have a registered nurse working at least eight hours every day.

The new payroll data, analyzed by Kaiser Health News, showed that for-profit nursing homes averaged 16 percent fewer staff than did nonprofits, even after accounting for differences in the needs of residents. The biggest difference was in the number of registered nurses: At the average nonprofit, there was one RN for every 28 residents, but at the average for-profit, there was only one RN for every 43 residents. Researchers have repeatedly found lower staffing in for-profit facilities, which make up 70 percent of the industry.

You can view the updated ratings of all US nursing homes at https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html