CMS again postpones hospital star ratings update
- CMS has delayed the hospital quality star ratings update due in July, saying it needs more time to address stakeholder concerns and evaluate how proposed changes to methodology would impact ratings.
- The agency is setting a public comment period and has said it will be gathering additional feedback. For the time being, star ratings from December will remain on the Hospital Compare website.
- Providers have been wary of star ratings, and hospital associations like America's Essential Hospitals and the American Hospital Association are lauding CMS' decision to delay the update.
This is just the latest in a string of delays CMS has made in updating star ratings. The agency had also postponed an update to star ratings in October following the cancellation of an update in July, a decision that was made following stakeholder concerns. The last update to star ratings was in December.
The agency is again playing it safe with industry groups by delaying an update while it collects feedback from hospitals and providers. "When changes are made to the underlying measures it is vital to take the time needed to understand the impact of those changes and ensure we are giving consumers the most useful information," CMS said in a statement, according to AHA.
Hospitals and health systems have a lot to gain, or lose, from the star rating system and other online rating sites, as they can directly affect a health system’s bottom line and brand. Many have had their doubts about the efficiency of the rating system and welcome the opportunity to help improve it.
Tom Nickels, AHA executive vice president, said in a statement that CMS "made the right call" in delaying its July update, citing concerns many hospitals and health systems had following the agency's late-May preview of proposed changes to the star ratings system. AHA had previously raised questions about “the conceptual underpinnings of the program" and the data used in May's preview.
"As longstanding supporters of transparency ... the AHA is committed to continuing the [dialogue] with CMS about the goal we share — providing the public with accurate, meaningful information about quality," he said.
In a statement, AEH president Bruce Siegel said the group remains "deeply concerned the star ratings could do more harm than good in their current form." A recent analysis from consulting firm Sullivan, Cotter and Associates and Modern Healthcare found safety net hospitals, which AEH represents, are less likely to get 5-star ratings than specialty and critical-access hospitals.
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