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CMS's Hospital Compare 5-Star Ratings Delayed Again

News  |  By Philip Betbeze  
   September 28, 2017

CMS was slated to release the ratings in October. It is reportedly reviewing its methodology based on public comments.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will again delay an update to its overall hospital star ratings system that was scheduled for October, according to the American Hospital Association.  

“CMS decided not to proceed with the October update to continue its examination of potential changes to the Star Rating methodology based on public feedback,” the hospital lobbying organization quoted the agency as saying.

In a previous announcement of a delay for an update originally scheduled for July, CMS blamed data issues for not updating its five-star quality ratings, available on the Hospital Compare web site.

The ratings are currently based on a statistical model known as a latent variable model. Seven different latent variable models are used to calculate scores based on 57 quality measures over seven groups, including mortality, patient experience, readmissions, safety of care, care effectiveness, care timeliness and efficient use of medical imaging.

Many hospitals have questioned the model’s methodology, saying it unfairly penalizes some organizations and inappropriately rewards others. Among the arguments:

  • The current overall star rating methodology does not stratify by type or characteristic of hospitals
  • The ratings are oversimplified
  • Size shouldn’t matter (87.5% of hospitals that earned 5 stars had fewer than 100 beds)
  • Less reporting leads to higher ratings
  • Problems with socioeconomic bias, at least partially because in part, readmission rates are higher in low-income patient populations
  • Patient perceptions aren’t a proxy for quality

The star ratings released in December 2016 will remain on Hospital Compare until the next update, but CMS did not mention when that might be, according to the report.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.

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