Today, CMS announced it is strengthening the State Performance Standards System (SPSS). Under the changes announced in a memo to states today, CMS will, through the updated SPSS assessment tools, more rigorously and rapidly analyze SSA (State Survey Agency) performance to ensure inspections are timely and accurate. This includes new performance measures and stricter monitoring.
Specific changes to the SPSS announced today include:
- Increased monitoring – through new metrics that are reviewed more frequently – to assure SSAs are conducting surveys in a timely manner;
- New “State Performance Indicators” that will be reviewed quarterly to help identify potential issues with respect to SSA performance, helping CMS address problems before they worsen. Previously, CMS had examined each State’s performance on a set of long-standing measures after the close of the fiscal year. These new Performance Indicators include metrics to provide information related to citation rates and the timeliness of complaint investigations, to allow for quick mitigation of issues;
- Holding SSAs accountable for correctly handling cases in which health and safety are in immediate danger, a situation called “immediate jeopardy (IJ),” by formally measuring the timeliness of SSA notifications of IJs to facilities, and the accuracy of that notification. This follows previous CMS guidance to help SSAs identify and cite situations threatening immediate harm encountered during inspections;
- Also, considering increased system flexibility for CMS to add State-specific measures to help CMS target resources to poor performing SSAs. For example, a State experiencing specific problems with the complaint investigation process could employ a measure related to the complaint investigation process. This flexibility will help States focus on any specific challenges they face in their work to keep patients and residents safe; and
- Better access for SSAs to centralized CMS data to avoid redundant or duplicative data reporting and unnecessary administrative burden on SSAs, helping them focus on their work to inspect nursing homes for compliance.