CMS Updates Hospital Quality Star Ratings Over AHA's Objections

Kerry Dooley Young

February 04, 2020

Federal officials updated a public website of hospital ratings, even while working to potentially revise the approach now used to judge quality.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) had asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to suspend the publication of its star ratings.

While expressing continued willingness to consider hospitals' criticism of the program, CMS proceeded last week with its update of its Hospital Compare website, using its Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings.

"Today's update puts the most up-to-date hospital quality information at patients' and their families' fingertips so they can make the healthcare choices that are right for them," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a January 29 statement.

"Longstanding Concerns"

In the view of AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels, CMS' rating system has been "plagued by longstanding concerns about accuracy and meaningfulness," he said in a statement.

Nickels said the agency should have held off on the update until changes were made and vetted for its approach to judging quality.

"While we appreciate that CMS is working on potential improvements to the star rating methodology for 2021, we strongly believe that today's re-publication of the flawed and misleading ratings do not advance the goal of providing the public with accurate, purposeful information about quality of care," Nickels said.

CMS in August had announced its plan to update the Hospital Compare site in 2020, while working toward a 2021 target date for revising methods for judging quality of care.

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