CMS postpones October hospital star ratings update: 5 things to know

CMS will not update Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings on its Hospital Compare website in October, according to AHA News Now.

Here are five things to know.

1. The star rating system combines multiple quality measures into a single one-to-five star rating. While consumer groups like AARP lauded the release of the star ratings in July 2016, the American Hospital Association, other hospital groups and some in academia have since expressed serious concern regarding the methodology behind the ratings. One major concern is that the measure does not account for the social determinants of health.

2. CMS scheduled the October update after deciding not to update the ratings in July. The agency cancelled that update due to issues with three quality measures: central line-associated bloodstream infections, Clostridium difficile infections and PSI-90.

3. Ashley Thompson, the senior vice president of public policy analysis and development with AHA, urged CMS to remove the star ratings from its Hospital Compare website in a Sept. 25 letter addressed to Kate Goodrich, MD, the CMO of CMS.

"At a minimum, the AHA strongly urges CMS to remove the star ratings from Hospital Compare and not republish them until it corrects the errors and outside experts agree that the updated methodology is executed correctly," Ms. Thompson wrote. "Even if CMS can improve the implementation of the current methodology, we continue to have significant concerns about the conceptual underpinnings of star ratings. The measures included in the ratings were never intended to create a single, representative score of hospital quality."

4. The overall quality star ratings from December 2016 remain posted on CMS' Hospital Compare website. Of the 4,598 hospitals rated on the website, just 83 — less than 2 percent — carry five-star ratings.    

5. CMS has not said when updated overall star ratings will be released.

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