News & Resources: Blog

National Ranking of VA Nursing Homes

Published: June 1, 2023

VA released the internal rankings of VA nursing homes nationwide in 2018 as part of an effort to increase transparency within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The 5-star ranking system helps veterans and their families to locate the best facility possible in their area. The posted performance ratings are updated annually and include the names of the nursing homes associated with the VA system and one- to five-star ratings for the quality of the environment, care, and staff. The information is based on unannounced onsite surveys at each facility and criteria scores.

The mandate for more transparency regarding veteran care began with other internal statistics that are now publicly published including:

  • Hospital wait times
  • Opioid prescription rates
  • Employee settlements and accountability actions
  • Chief executive travel

Why was the Ranking System Started?

The VA was the first hospital system nationwide to publish these statistics in an attempt to help veterans make their health care choices. The hope is to continually improve health care services by monitoring hospitals for best practices.

The ranking system used within the VA system was designed to allow valuable comparisons to the already existing 5-star ranking system by the Centers for Medicare (CMS), a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. A VA nursing home interactive map helps you identify your best options. Then you can compare those options against Medicare.gov Nursing Home Compare searches.

How Do VA Hospitals Compare to Private Nursing Homes?

Overall the data shows that the VA nursing home system ranks very close to private sector nursing homes, even though the VA nursing homes on average cares for sicker patients than those in private care facilities. Of the 15,487 nursing homes ranked by CMS, almost 29 percent had 5-star rankings, compared to about 26 percent of VA nursing homes. However, the VA had only an 8 percent one-star ranking compared to 13 percent for CMS ranked private care facilities. Because the VA doesn’t turn away eligible veterans, and they typically come with more complex medical conditions, it’s more difficult for the VA nursing home system to achieve higher rankings.

Residents in a VA nursing home have conditions rarely seen in private nursing homes, including higher incidents of prostate obstruction, spinal cord injury, mental illness, homelessness, PTSD, and combat injury. While a private sector facility can selectively admit patients, the VA won’t refuse service to an eligible veteran, no matter their condition.

Elder Law Attorneys can Help Veterans Seeking Health Care

Transparency of VA nursing home care and ranking systems that allow comparison to private care facilities can significantly help you or a veteran you love get the proper nursing home care required. But the volume of information can be overwhelming. Our elder law attorneys specialize in VA benefits and can evaluate your military service record and health conditions to help you choose the best facility for care. We also help you apply for benefits to offset your health care costs, supporting you throughout the process by gathering and presenting medical information for a successful claim. If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

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