60 senators ask CMS to postpone overall hospital quality star ratings

On Monday, 60 senators signed a letter urging CMS to delay the rollout of the overall hospital star ratings program scheduled to be released April 21.

Currently, CMS' Hospital Compare provides a star rating for hospitals based on HCAHPS scores only. The new star rating system will incorporate other aspects of care, including readmissions, safety and mortality. CMS issued a final report on its methodology for the new ratings system in January.

In the letter, senators expressed concern that the methodology in the hospital evaluations may result in an inaccurate ratings. The senators claim that not enough details behind the rating methodology have been released.

The senators wrote, "While we support the public reporting of provider quality data, we are concerned that the current Star Ratings system may not accurately take into account hospitals that treat patients with low socioeconomic status or multiple complex chronic conditions."

The senators also expressed uncertainty that the new ratings will fairly assess the complex procedures and illnesses undertaken by prominent hospitals, which could skew the quality rating.

"We respectfully request that you delay release of the 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," wrote the senators.

Signatures for a similar letter in the House are being collected through Wednesday, according to AHA News.

While CMS' current star ratings are derived solely from patient experience scores, some researchers have found that five-star hospitals do in fact have lower mortality and readmission rates than their lower rated counterparts.

More articles on quality: 
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Pain meds like Tylenol may impede brain's ability to detect error, according to new study 
Stanford creates database to track health of chronic pain patients

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