Cover story high­lights flaws in CMS’ star-rat­ing sys­tem

Modern Healthcare - - Comment -

The March 19 cover story “Not Aligned” (p. 8) un­der­scores the sig­nif­i­cant and on­go­ing prob­lems with the CMS’ star-rat­ing sys­tem for hos­pi­tals.

In late 2016, dur­ing the clos­ing days of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, it oc­curred to me that pres­i­den­tial de­bate plan­ners must take into con­sid­er­a­tion ac­cess to emergency health ser­vices around de­bate sites. After all, pres­i­den­tial de­bates are high pres­sure, and both can­di­dates were among the old­est nom­i­nees in the his­tory of their par­ties.

The first de­bate was held at Hof­s­tra Univer­sity in Hemp­stead, N.Y., on Sept. 26, 2016. A 20-mile ra­dius of the de­bate stage in­cluded 40 hos­pi­tals—among them some of the most pres­ti­gious ma­jor med­i­cal cen­ters in New York City. How­ever, th­ese hos­pi­tals’ com­bined av­er­age star rat­ing at that time was less than 1.5. The near­est fives­tar hos­pi­tal was 22 miles away—the Hos­pi­tal for Spe­cial Surgery.

It stands to rea­son that de­bate plan­ners wouldn’t have by­passed th­ese lower-rated in­sti­tu­tions.

Dr. Cather­ine Ma­cLean, chief value med­i­cal of­fi­cer at the Hos­pi­tal for Spe­cial Surgery, ex­plained the dis­con­nect in the March 19 story, say­ing, “We don’t think it’s a very good rat­ing sys­tem … you are com­par­ing ap­ples to or­anges.”

The CMS should lis­ten. The pub­lic is poorly served by the five-star sys­tem.

Mat Rei­d­head Vice pres­i­dent of re­search and an­a­lyt­ics Mis­souri Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion

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