- The CMS will not update overall star ratings for hospitals next month, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA). Healthcare Dive reached out to CMS for confirmation but has not yet heard back.
- The agency “decided not to proceed with the October update to continue its examination of potential changes to the Star Rating methodology based on public feedback,” according to a post on the AHA website.
- AHA has been a frequent and vocal critic of the star ratings program, saying it has “significant concerns about the conceptual underpinning” of the program and is concerned about the “reliability and accuracy” of the methodology used to determine the one-to-five star rankings. In June it asked the CMS to suspend the program entirely.
The decision is the latest in a string of delays for the ratings program. The initial rollout last year was delayed, and the update that will no longer happen in October was originally scheduled for July. The CMS acknowledged data issues have held back the updates.
CMS has made some changes since launching the program, including dropping a few of the measures included in the ratings calculation.
Hospitals have never been a fan of the star ratings program, to say the least. CMS issued the first results in July 2016, and only 2.2% of hospitals received the full five stars. AHA has said some hospitals have been incorrectly classified, and that the ratings themselves are too simplistic, as well as misleading and confusing for patients. They also say the program puts too much regulatory burden on hospitals.
The goal of the star ratings program, however, aligns with the healthcare trend of increasing consumer demands for transparency and convenience. Hospitals can be rated on Yelp, and individual doctors can be reviewed on a variety of websites. Often those comments are focused more on customer service aspects of a patient visit than care quality, though.
The CMS isn’t likely to back down on initiatives to help patients find care quality data. Just last month, the agency released the Hospice Compare website. It joins similar websites that allow users to find quality metrics for hospitals, dialysis centers, home health organizations, long-term care hospitals and nursing homes.
HHS in President Donald Trump’s administration is intent on tackling regulatory burden issues, though. Earlier this year, the CMS issued a request for information asking providers to identify regulations in the Affordable Care Act that are unnecessary or ineffective as well as those that impede job growth and have costs exceeding benefits.