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CMS releases Hospital Compare Star Ratings

The ratings are based on methodology that is flawed, according to America's Essential Hospitals.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released the Hospital Compare Star Ratings.

Of 5,340 hospitals listed, an estimated 396 received 5 stars; 1,132 received 4 stars; 1,108 received 3 stars; 710 received 2 stars and 226 received 1 star, according to the overall rating released by CMS. Of another 1,761 hospitals listed, CMS said no star rating information was available.

CMS last updated its star ratings in February 2019. In August, CMS said it  planned to propose updates to the methodology through rulemaking in 2020, after getting broad feedback.

The  methodology proposals will be included in the FY2021 Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule expected out this spring, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said on release of the star ratings. Comments are still welcome.

"While we look ahead to new star ratings proposals, today's updated star ratings use the existing methodology to ensure patients have the information they need," she said. "The American people deserve up-to-date information on how hospitals are performing."

WHY THIS MATTERS

One hospital organization has voiced its displeasure on CMS's decision to publish the star ratings using the current methodology.

The methodology fails to account for differences among hospitals, said Beth Feldpush, senior vice president of Policy and Advocacy for America's Essential Hospitals. The ratings have the potential to disadvantage essential hospitals, which care for patients who face severe socioeconomic challenges, she said.

"This mission puts essential hospitals at a disproportionate risk of penalties that result from flaws in the star ratings system -- flaws that persist despite modest updates to the methodology last year," Feldpush said. "We have made our concerns clear to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and we are disappointed the agency continues to publicly post the ratings."

THE LARGER TREND

CMS promotes the use of the star ratings ranging from 1-5 stars for consumers to choose high quality care.

While the star ratings are not directly related to financial reimbursement, many of the measures used to determine the overall star ratings are also used in other programs, such as the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program, that do directly impact reimbursement.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com