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CMS will delay updates to hospital star ratings until 2021

A few stakeholders recommended removing or suspending the overall star ratings from Hospital Compare until changes are made.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is waiting until 2021 to update the quality measurement methodology of the overall hospital quality star ratings located on CMS' Hospital Compare website.

A few stakeholders have recommended removing or suspending the overall star ratings from Hospital Compare until the changes are made, but the majority did not make this request, CMS said.

The agency received 800 comments within 145 letters from hospitals, health systems, hospital associations and medical universities.

The most common concern was consistent with previous stakeholder feedback, that CMS should improve the star ratings' usefulness for consumer decision-making and hospital improvement.

Some said the ratings are overly complex, not specific enough, or may oversimplify quality measurement. Stakeholders recommended making the ratings more precise, as well as allowing a more direct apples-to-apples comparison.

The public comments will inform the methodology that CMS plans to ultimately propose in rulemaking in 2020. CMS is working closely with a technical expert panel on the ratings methodology. Nominations for the TEP were due today.

While this is being finalized, CMS will refresh the star ratings using the current methodology in early 2020, so that patients have up-to-date hospital quality information.

CMS last updated the star ratings in February and said it has full confidence in their accuracy and reliability.

WHY THIS MATTERS

CMS promotes the use of the star ratings -- based on a rating of 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, according to the Advisory Board.

THE LARGER TREND

CMS sought comments on nine specific potential changes to the overall hospital quality star ratings methodology, from February 28 through March 29.

CMS is planning more public outreach, including a public listening session in Baltimore on September 19, that will include a call-in option.

ON THE RECORD

"Transparency is the cornerstone of the Trump Administration's commitment to patients," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "President Trump knows the status quo doesn't work, and has directed us to enhance transparency for patients. CMS is delivering by refreshing and updating the Hospital Star Ratings."

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