Lawmakers want the CMS to delay release of its five-star hospital quality ratings because of flaws in the methodology and a lack of details given to providers about how the ratings are calculated.
The CMS is set to publish the ratings this month on Medicare's Hospital Compare website. The American Hospital Association has criticized the system and said it “oversimplifies the complexity of delivering high-quality care.”
Sixty senators and at least two congressmen have written similar letters.
In a letter to CMS acting Administrator Andy Slavitt that has not yet been delivered, Reps. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said the quality measures used to determine the ratings puts teaching hospitals that treat poorer and more complex patients at an unfair disadvantage.
They also said they are concerned the overall ratings will mask quality and put too much weight on patient-satisfaction data. The ratings are determined from a set of 62 measures that focus on mortality, safety, hospital readmissions, and the timeliness and effectiveness of care. The goal is for patients to have information they can easily understand and use to compare quality.
The CMS has given star ratings to nursing homes, home health providers, large group practices and dialysis facilities. Last year, just 251 out of 3,500 U.S. hospitals got five stars on patient satisfaction.
The lawmakers said they had heard from hospitals in their districts that the quality ratings could not be replicated or evaluated because not enough data is available. The industry is under pressure to increase transparency of quality data and provide information to consumers.
“We believe that additional time is necessary for hospitals and stakeholders to thoroughly review the data and understand the impact of the current methodology to ensure the validity and accuracy of the information before it is publicly released,” they wrote.
The CMS has said just 87 of the 3,647 hospitals that met reporting criteria will receive five stars and 142 will get one. About half will get three stars.