Blog | HR |
10 Min Read
August 11, 2023

What is Payroll Based Journal (PBJ) Reporting?

by Morris Isaacson


Payroll Based Journal (PBJ) reports were introduced in 2010 to help federal regulators gain insight into direct staffing needs in healthcare. This type of quarterly reporting is a requirement under Section 6101 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)


Understanding PBJ reporting requirements is key to keeping your facility compliant. Here’s everything you need to know about PBJ reporting requirements, including how to make the process simple, accurate and easy for your healthcare HR and payroll teams.

What is PBJ Reporting?

Section 6106 of the ACA requires nursing homes to submit staffing data to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). PBJ reporting helps the CMS collect data for analysis, comparison, as well as, policy recommendations. This data helps policy makers understand exactly how staffing levels impact quality patient care.


That said, there are also benefits for care providers.


Optimize staffing levels


Data from PBJ reporting doesn’t just help federal regulators. Providers can also use the data to drive operational efficiency. And there’s extra motivation to optimize your recruitment and hiring processes and retention policies


Improve quality ranking


Data from PBJ reports is included in the Five-Star Quality Rating System used by CMS. This rating system is accessible on the Medicare website and is widely used by Americans to select appropriate care providers for their loved ones. 


Prevent waste, fraud and abuse


PBJ reporting can also help prevent fraud and abuse. As a standardized system of reporting, PBJ reports ensure data quality and consistency, which leads to more transparency into internal staffing practices. This, in turn, reduces opportunities for potential time waste and fraud.

What Facilities Must Provide PBJ Reporting?

PBJ reporting is required for all long term care facilities that obtain funding through Medicare or Medicaid. Reporting requirements differ, however, based on the specific type of care your facility provides. 


1. Nursing facilities (NFs)


Nursing facilities are not required to have a licensed nurse on staff at all times, but they are still required to submit data on registered nurses (RNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). NFs must report the total hours staff members worked (including pathologists, occupational therapists, and others).


2. Hospice inpatient facilities (HIFs)


Hospice facilities generally only provide care in the short term, but they still need to report to the CMS. Like other facilities, they must report the hours PNs, RNs, and CNAs that they employ worked. They also have to include the hours of all other staff members, including counselors, chaplains, and social workers.


3. Intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICFs/IID)


Intermediate care facilities provide care to people living with intellectual or developmental disabilities who need to receive 24-hour supervision and care. ICFs/IID facilities need to submit data for PBJ reporting, but not as much as most. They’re only required to submit data on direct care staff, which may include CNAs, LPNs, and RNs.


4. Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs)


Skilled nursing facilities have significant reporting requirements including reporting 24-hour skilled nursing staff data. These facilities should report LPN, RN, and CNA data as well as staff member hours for physical or occupational therapists as well as others. In general, SNFs must record and report all staff member hours.


Every facility is different, and the requirements vary based on the services it offers. If long-term care of any kind is part of its services, the PBJ reporting applies in at least some manner.

PBJ Reporting Requirements

PBJ reporting has several requirements. First, know that there are four quarterly PBJ submission dates:


  • First quarter: January through March, reportable on May 15th
  • Second quarter: April through June, reportable on August 14th
  • Third quarter: July through September, reportable on November 14th
  • Fourth quarter: October through December, reportable on February 14th 


To meet the reporting requirements for the CMS, all long term care facilities must report the following data: 


  • A facility ID number: To start, include the ID and CMS certification number with the facility’s location.
  • Employee IDs: Employee IDs must be unique to each individual staff member. It should also not include personal information, such as the person’s Social Security Number (SSN).
  • Dates: The date associated with any hours worked.
  • Hours worked: The total number of hours worked per staff member. 
  • Job title codes: Each job role title determines which hours of work facilities should record and report to the CMS. Some of the possible job titles could include “certified nursing assistant,” “licensed practical nurse,” and “registered nurse.”
  • Pay type codes: Pay type codes fall into one of three categories, exempt, contract staff, or nonexempt. CMS guidelines require this data to identify the pay classification for each member of the staff. 
  • Census data: It’s optional, but many long-term care facilities include census data. 
  • Hire and termination date: Another optional type of data to include is information about the hire and termination dates of staff members. This data can help show if a facility has high rates of turnover or better retention.


There is more information about the exact reporting requirements in the CMS’s Electronic Staffing Data Submission Payroll-Based Journal.

Making PBJ Reporting Easy

There are two ways for you to submit data to the CMS. The first is through manual reporting on its website. The second option is through automated systems, like an automated HCM platform. 


If you’re still working manually, keep in mind that there are penalties for failing to report data, reporting incomplete or inaccurate data, and making late reports to the CMS. It’s possible for long term care facilities to fall into noncompliance and be subject to enforcement by the CMS. Audits are common, and unfortunately, even small errors can lead to problems during an audit.


So, what’s the solution, and how can you prevent your long-term care facility from running afoul of regulations? Investing in payroll software that includes a payroll-based module is the first step. 


HCM software solutions allow long term care facilities to minimize the risk of noncompliance with PBJ reporting standards and deadlines. Additionally, using software with automatic updates helps you stay in compliance, even when legislation changes.  


Here are a few ways automation can helps healthcare HR teams. 


  • Automation can help you handle payroll within a single system rather than investing in a third-party application to track time cards.
  • Automation creates the ability to import clocked-in hours and time cards from third-party vendors, removing the need for manual data entry.
  • Automation automatically tracks daily work hours for payroll purposes.
  • Automation eliminates the manual submission of quarterly PBJ reports by submitting them electronically automatically.


HCM software can do more than just help with PBJ reporting. It also helps you track payroll, incidents, onboarding, candidate screening, job posting, taxes, and other aspects of your work to keep the facility running smoothly. 

PBJ Reporting with Empeon's HCM Solution

PBJ reporting can be complicated and labor-intensive. However, it’s critical to get this process right in order to meet your obligations to CMS. A HR+Payroll platform designed specifically for healthcare can help you take the complexity and anxiety out of the PBJ reporting process, so you have more time to focus on what’s most important. 


Ready to try an option that makes PBJ reporting simple? Try Empeon’s flexible HCM solution. Book a demo today to see how it can work for you.

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