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15 Worst Cities for Nursing Home Quality

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(Related: Sorry, No Room for Your Mom)

One way local, live-human financial professionals can set themselves apart from the robots is to know what’s going on inside area long-term care (LTC) facilities.

Whether clients are buying long-term care insurance, annuities, life insurance policies that offer LTC benefits, or a diversified portfolio of mutual funds, the odds that some of the clients’ resources will go to pay for LTC services are high.

You can learn a lot about LTC service providers by visiting facilities, and by talking to the people who use the facilities and services.

You can also learn something by visiting the federal government’s site. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, has stuffed that site full of data on the quality of all kinds of care providers, including home health care providers.

To laser in on nursing home quality measures, try the CMS Nursing Home Compare site. You can search for a nursing home by name, list all of the nursing homes in a specific area, or download an entire nursing home quality information dataset. One of the nursing home quality datasets, the Provider Info dataset, offers 79 columns of information on about 15,600 different nursing home care providers. The dataset was last updated in September.

For a list of the communities that look the worst, in terms of quality, to us — based on three-year federal fine totals — see the data cards in the slideshow above.

Our Nursing Home Quality List

CMS uses many different quality measures to rate nursing homes on a 5-star scale.

We focused on the amount of fines the federal government has imposed on nursing homes in a city, town or other community over a three-year period, because high fine totals seem to be a sign that nursing homes in a community may have had especially severe problems.

To reduce the odds that one fine imposed in one small community would throw off the rankings, we limited our analysis to communities that had an average of at least 200 people in nursing home beds per day.

We ended up with a list of 1,648 communities, with an average of about 500 occupied nursing home beds per community. The median amount of federal fines imposed per bed, over three years, was just $35. In other words: Over a three-year period, at a typical nursing home, federal fines ate up about $3 per bed per month.

The maximum amount of federal fines per nursing home bed was more than $5,000, in one community in West Virginia. In that community, federal fines amounted to an average of about $140 per occupied nursing home bed per month.

— Read Medicare Pays Well for Nursing Home Care: Senior Housing Groupon ThinkAdvisor.

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