Rep. Elijah E. Cummings

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (August 27, 2014)

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings on Tuesday called on federal health officials to reevaluate how they grade nursing homes in response to reports that some facilities are gaming the system.

In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Baltimore lawmaker and top-ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform requested a briefing on the issue next month. Cummings wrote he is particularly concerned the federal agency grades the homes in large part on self-reported metrics.

"Some nursing homes have been able to obtain the highest overall rating of five stars even though government health inspectors have determined that the facility meets only average standards of care," Cummings wrote Marilyn Tavenner, the CMS administrator.

The Democrat's letter came in response to an article in the New York Times on Sunday that found CMS does not verify much of the information submitted by the nursing home industry and does not take into account enforcement actions by state officials or complaints filed with state consumer agencies.

A CMS spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about the request from Cummings.