Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
August 19, 2019
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing plans to update the quality measurement methodology of the Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings located on CMS’ popular Hospital Compare website in 2021. In the interim, CMS will next refresh the Star Ratings using the current methodology in early 2020, ensuring patients have timely access to the most up-to-date hospital quality information while a new methodology is being finalized. Today’s announcement represents a major step forward in delivering on President Trump’s recent Executive Order on Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First, which seeks “to enhance the ability of patients to choose the healthcare that is best for them.”
The Hospital Compare website’s Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings rate hospital quality on a scale from one to five stars. CMS last updated the Star Ratings in February 2019, and has full confidence in their accuracy and reliability. Yet, to ensure the Star Ratings are as helpful as possible, CMS routinely refines the methodology used to calculate them. Today’s announcement means CMS plans to next update the Star Ratings in early 2020 according to the current methodology. CMS plans proposed rulemaking in 2020 to enhance the methodology and aims to finalize these rules prior to the release of the Star Ratings in calendar year 2021.
“Transparency is the cornerstone of the Trump Administration’s commitment to patients,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “President Trump knows the status quo doesn’t work, and has directed us to enhance transparency for patients. CMS is delivering by refreshing and updating the Hospital Star Ratings. Today, CMS is empowering patients to make informed healthcare decisions, leading providers to compete on the basis of cost and quality.”
CMS in February 2019 asked stakeholders for input on a potential Overall Star Ratings methodology update. Today, CMS has posted a summary of the more than 800 comments received on potential technical changes to the Hospital CompareOverall Star Ratings received during a public comment period that ended March 29, 2019. This public feedback is a critical part of ongoing efforts, along with comments submitted during future rulemaking, that will help shape improvements to the Star Ratings targeted for early 2021.
In the request for comment, CMS asked about potential changes to the methodology based on initial feedback from a technical expert panel and public listening sessions. Importantly, few comments recommended removing or suspending the Overall Star Ratings from Hospital Compare until changes are made. The comments are largely consistent with previous stakeholder feedback, with the most common concerns about the Overall Star Ratings being that CMS should improve its usefulness for consumer decision-making and hospital improvement. Some commenters also expressed that the ratings are overly complex, not specific enough, or may oversimplify quality measurement. Stakeholders recommended making the ratings more precise, as well as allowing more direct “apples-to-apples” comparisons. These public comments will inform the methodology that CMS plans to ultimately propose in rulemaking in 2020.
CMS is planning more public outreach to shape potential changes to the Overall Star Ratings methodology. This includes a public listening session on the Star Ratings for a range of stakeholders in Baltimore on September 19, 2019, that will include a call-in option. CMS will also work closely with a technical expert panel (TEP) on the ratings methodology. Nominations for the TEP are due August 19, 2019.
For an executive summary, detailed summary, and the verbatim public comments on the Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/MMS/Downloads/Overall-Hospital-Quality-Star-Ratings-on-Hospital-Compare.zip