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Highlights

With the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA '87), Congress responded to growing concerns about the quality of care that nursing home residents received by requiring reforms in the federal certification and oversight of nursing homes. These reforms included revising care requirements that homes must meet to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid programs, modifying the survey process for certifying a home's compliance with federal standards, and introducing additional sanctions and decertification procedures for noncompliant homes. GAO's testimony addresses its work in evaluating the quality of nursing home care and the enforcement and oversight functions intended to ensure high-quality care, the progress made in each of these areas since the passage of OBRA '87, and the challenges that remain. GAO's testimony is based on its prior work; analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) On-Line Survey, Certification, and Reporting system (OSCAR), which compiles the results of state nursing home surveys; and evaluation of federal comparative surveys for selected states (2005-2007). Federal comparative surveys are conducted at nursing homes recently surveyed by each state to assess the adequacy of the state's surveys.

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