CMS delays overall hospital star ratings release: 4 things to know

Just one day before its scheduled public launch, CMS postponed the release of its overall hospital star ratings program to July, according to a statement from CMS.

Here are four things to know about the program, its controversy and its future.

1. CMS had planned to release a new star ratings system on Hospital Compare on April 21. The current star ratings, which went live in April 2015, incorporate only patient experience scores, and the new overall star ratings intend to include quality measures such as readmissions, mortality, effectiveness of care and timeliness of care in addition to patient experience scores.

2. After the program's final methodology was announced in January, several stakeholders spoke out against the ratings system. A group of 60 senators sent a letter to Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of CMS, urging CMS to delay releasing the ratings because of concerns the system "may not accurately take into account hospitals that treat patients with low socioeconomic status or multiple complex chronic conditions." Members of the House also sent a similar letter, according to Kaiser Health News. Additionally, several hospital groups sent a similar letter to Mr. Slavitt in March, stating "serious concerns that these star ratings will be misleading to consumers" because the ratings would use measures that are not properly risk-adjusted.

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3. In Wednesday's statement from CMS, the agency said it developed its methodology in coordination with many stakeholders, but it would delay the overall star ratings release in response to "targeted concerns about specific calculations" and feedback from stakeholders.

4. Prior to the new July release date, the day of which has not been specified, CMS plans to listen to stakeholders — people with questions on the methodology can email cmsstarratings@lantanagroup.com — and work with hospitals on their data — a national provider call is scheduled for May 12. After the star ratings go live "in their first iteration," the agency plans to "refine and improve the site," according to the statement.

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