An update to the controversial hospital star ratings on Hospital Compare won't happen this summer.
In an email to Modern Healthcare, a CMS spokeswoman said the next update to the hospital star ratings will not occur until a technical expert panel reviews the methodology and offers changes. The star ratings were last updated in February after a 14-month hiatus but prior to that they were typically updated every six months. Under that schedule, the new ratings would have been due for release in August.
There isn't yet a timeline for the technical expert panel to meet. The agency will accept nominations for members but hasn't done so yet.
The spokeswoman said hospitals are aware that new star ratings won't be released because they weren't included in their most recent Hospital Compare data preview reports, but no announcement was made publicly.
The American Hospital Association is supportive of the decision to hold off on releasing the ratings. "The AHA appreciates that CMS, as we have urged, is seeking further expert input on its star ratings methodology. We continue to believe that the agency must improve the accuracy and meaningfulness of star ratings before they are republished," Ashley Thompson, senior vice president of policy at the AHA, said in a statement.
The February release of the star ratings also included a 48-page public input request for stakeholders to provide feedback on potential changes to the star ratings program.
The agency spokeswoman said the technical expert panel will review the comments from that public request "and recommend next steps." She said the agency received more than 800 comments.
The technical expert panel will have a lot to consider. Many of the proposals in the public input request were substantial, including scrapping the latent variable model it uses to assign star ratings.
The CMS spokeswoman said the agency "anticipates" the comments will be made publicly available later this summer after the CMS finishes its review and analysis.
"Our priority remains ensuring Hospital Compare provides consumers meaningful, easy-to-use information on hospital safety and quality that empowers them to make informed decisions about their care," the spokeswoman added.