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The Takeaway: Nursing Home Care Improving-Mostly

1-Star Nursing Homes Not Getting Better: Nursing home care in the United States is improving ... except where it's worst. An analysis of federal nursing home ratings by USA Today found that as most nursing homes improved, those given the lowest, one-star rating didn't improve at all over the past three years. According to the ratings-which come from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)-more than 560 1-star nursing homes haven't budged in that time.

"You'd like to think the marketplace would deal with it and residents wouldn't get placed there, but sometimes they don't have a choice," said Larry Minnix, president and CEO of LeadingAge, an association of nonprofit nursing homes.

Among the consistently low performers, almost two-thirds were for-profit nursing homes that are owned by chains.

Overall, however, nursing home quality is improving. The share of nursing homes receiving one or two stars dropped from 2009 to 2011, while those receiving four- or five-stars increased 5 percent. 

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