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CMS Delays July Star Ratings Release with Input from Vizient, Others

06/19/18

Following feedback from Vizient and other health care organizations and associations, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a delay in the biannual release of the Overall Hospital Star Ratings, scheduled for July. A new release date has not been announced however as the Agency has committed to doing further analysis of several data and methodology issues that have been raised.

David Levine, M.D., Vizient’s group senior vice president of advanced analytics and product management, has been a leading voice in bringing the data and methodology concerns to CMS and advocating for change on behalf of Vizient members.

On June 15, Modern Healthcare published the article “CMS Star Rating System Has Been Wrong for Two Years, Health System Finds,” highlighting the ratings swing experienced by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Featured as an expert in the story, Levine said, “We have expressed our deep concerns about this methodology [in the safety category] because it changes the weight every time—that doesn't really make sense.”

In the case of the ratings swing for Rush, Levine points to negative-loading coefficients for certain safety group measures resulting in poorer ratings for higher-performing hospitals and better ratings for worse performers. He also notes that within the safety category, one measure out of eight disproportionately focuses on total hip and knee complications, skewing the overall safety score. In turn, the safety score can significantly influence a hospital’s overall star rating, which is used by consumers and payers to make care and contract decisions, respectively.

In the article, “Here’s how consumers and providers can get a better CMS star rating system,” published on June 8 in The Hill, Levine expressed his support for the star ratings concept and offered five recommendations that would improve the program. “The star rating system is a great idea. With the tweaks outlined here, it can become a positive feedback loop between hospitals, physicians and patients to drive performance improvement,” Levine said.

To learn more about advocacy efforts by Vizient to help improve the CMS star rating, read the Company’s letter submitted to CMS on May 30, 2018, and the public comments Vizient submitted on September 27, 2017.

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