Months after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services postponed the release of its star ratings for hospital quality, the agency is finally ready to reveal the data. But a new bill introduced in Congress may delay the release for another year as questions persist about the agency’s methodology.
In addition to delaying the ratings for a year, the Hospital Quality Rating Transparency Act of 2016 would require CMS to enact a 60-day comment period and have a third party validate its methodology and data.
Under the bill, CMS must remove star ratings posted before the bill’s enactment from its Hospital Compare website. The bill was introduced this week by Reps. James Renacci (R-Ohio) and Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.).
Industry groups, long critical of the methodology the federal agency used to come up with its ratings, praised the legislation.
"Our own analysis of preliminary data continues to raise questions and concerns about the methodology, which may unfairly penalize teaching hospitals and those serving the poor,” wrote Tom Nickels, executive vice president for government relations and public policy at the American Hospital Association. “We continue to urge CMS to work with hospitals and health systems to provide patients with a rating system that accurately reflects the quality of care provided at their facilities, and will work with Reps. Renacci and Rice to move this legislation forward.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) said the current methodology gives short shrift to teaching hospitals managing complex conditions. “The ratings generated by this flawed system could possibly steer patients away from some of the best hospitals for their conditions,” the AAMC said in a statement.