Kidney-care providers are sharply criticizing the CMS' decision to move forward with its five-star rating program for dialysis facilities. The agency recently announced it will proceed in January with the rollout of the rating system, using methodology that has drawn attacks from kidney-care groups since they first viewed it this summer.
Kidney Care Partners, a coalition of providers, manufacturers and patient groups, said last week that it is troubled that the CMS would “summarily dismiss” providers' recommendations offered during the program's public commentary period.
“We want the system to be reliable and meaningful to patients and to reflect the quality of care being delivered,” said Dr. Edward Jones, the coalition's chairman. “The program as developed by CMS simply does not accomplish that goal.”
The Kidney Care Council, an association of providers, said the CMS has chosen to implement a system “built with inappropriate measures, based on inaccurate data and using a flawed methodology.”
The group criticized the methodology for including measures not focused on dialysis services, such as all-cause hospitalizations. It warned that the ratings will confuse patients and offer conflicting standards for providers.
Use of the ratings on the CMS' Dialysis Facility Compare website is intended to help Medicare beneficiaries compare the quality of care at centers across the country. The methodology, which the CMS unveiled in July, includes nine publicly reported quality measures, such as standardized ratios for transfusions, mortality and hospitalizations, as well as percentages for KtV values, which show whether enough waste was removed from the patient's blood during dialysis. The ratings also will reflect percentages of adult dialysis patients with high calcium levels.
Dialysis providers argue that Medicare's end-stage renal disease quality incentive program and its survey process already assess the same factors.
The star-rating rollout had been scheduled for October but was delayed amid provider protests. But the CMS on Nov. 7 said it would keep the original methodology. The agency said it will convene an expert panel to evaluate the methodology and recommend future modifications.
Dialysis facilities will have 15 days to review the data and star ratings issued by the CMS before they are posted on the CMS website in January. The deadline for submitting comments is Nov. 24. Data will be updated on an annual basis beginning in October of next year.