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AHCA halts heavy redactions on nursing home reports -- but creates another transparency hurdle

Nursing home redactionsFlorida regulators decided Friday they will abandon the use of software that allowed them to heavily redact key words from nursing home inspection reports posted online, choosing instead to link to the more complete reports available on a federal site.

“To avoid confusion for the nursing home reports, our agency links to the federal site, www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare,” said Mallory McManus, spokesperson for the Agency for Health Care Administration. “We no longer use the automated redaction tool.”

The decision came a day after the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee bureau reported that the redaction software the agency started using last year was removing key words, dates and descriptions from the inspection reports posted online while the same reports posted on the federal website did not contain the heavy redactions.

State law requires the agency to post the inspection reports on its website to aid the public in monitoring conditions at the 683 nursing homes and more than 3,100 assisted living facilities in the state. But by ending one transparency problem, the agency created another.

The redaction software was used retroactively to block words from inspection reports that went back seven years. Before last year, these documents were available to the public without the heavy redaction. Rather than restoring the documents to that format, the state on Friday linked to the federal documents, which go back only three years, resulting in less access for families, advocates and consumers who want to analyze a nursing home's track record. Story here. 

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