Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Robert Casey (D-Penn.) April 11 sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt outlining concerns with the Hospital Compare Star Rating system and calling for a delay in the release of the ratings. The letter was signed by 58 additional Senators.
In December 2015, CMS released a methodology that would convert the quality measures reported on the Hospital Compare website into a single, overall star rating for each institution. The lowest performing institutions would receive one star and the highest would recent five stars. In April 2016, CMS will release these star ratings on Hospital Compare for the first time. The April release will be significantly influenced by data that was publicly released in July 2015. This data will be updated again in July 2016.
The letter states “We are concerned that the Star Rating system may be misleading to consumers due to flaws in the measures that underpin the ratings. Many prominent hospitals that are in the top echelon of other quality rating reports, and handle the most complex procedures and patients, may receive 1 or 2 stars (out of a possible 5), indicating that they have the poorest quality in comparison to all other hospitals. As the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and other researchers have noted, these measures are not appropriately adjusted for socioeconomic status and patient complexity.”
The letter further urges a delay the release of star ratings, “to provide the necessary time to more closely examine the star rating methodology, analyze its impact on different types of hospitals, and provide more transparent information regarding the calculation of the ratings to determine accuracy.”
The AAMC supports the Senators’ request, as previously stated in a joint hospital association letter to CMS [see Washington Highlights, March 25].