The CMS on Wednesday refreshed the overall hospital quality star ratings on Hospital Compare using the current methodology as it works to potentially change the program.
The star ratings update was expected. The agency announced in August that it would refresh the ratings while planning to release proposed methodology changes through a public rulemaking this spring.
Hospitals still oppose the decision and have urged the CMS to remove the ratings from Hospital Compare altogether until changes are made.
"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," said Tom Nickels, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association, in a statement.
Despite the pushback, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement that the ratings were refreshed using the existing methodology because "the American people deserve up-to-date information on how hospitals are performing."
Similar to previous iterations of the star ratings, the latest refresh resembles a bell curve with most hospitals receiving three or four stars and less assigned one or five stars. Of the 4,586 hospitals included in the star ratings, 228 got one star, 710 received two stars, 1,119 were assigned three stars, 1,136 received four stars and 407 scored five stars.
The ratings are based on quality data as recent as October 2019.
The CMS has been seeking feedback from stakeholders on potential changes to the star ratings. It hosted a listening session in September and convened a new technical expert panel. The panel includes representatives from the American Nurses Association, the Joint Commission, America's Health Insurance Plans, Premier and Henry Ford Health System. Additionally, Dr. Bala Hota, chief analytics officer at Rush University Medical Center, participates on the panel. The hospital has been particularly critical of the star ratings.
The proposed methodology changes will be included in the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule for fiscal year 2021, according to the agency. The CMS said it encourages stakeholders to comment on the changes proposed in the rule.